Ja’Marr Chase

Latest On Bengals’ WR Corps

NOVEMBER 12: Chase will be active for today’s bout with the Texans. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that Chase “did what was necessary” in his warmups this morning to get the green light.

NOVEMBER 11: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be a bit shorthanded coming into a battle with an excited Texans team. We know that much. We learned yesterday that the team’s second-leading receiver, Tee Higgins, will be held out as he deals with a hamstring injury. Today, it was confirmed that rookie receiver and return specialist Charlie Jones, who has been on injured reserve for Cincinnati’s last five games, has been downgraded from questionable to out, per Jay Morrison of Pro Football Network.

Already down two wide receivers, things could potentially become even more dire for the Bengals offense if star wideout Ja’Marr Chase is unavailable to play tomorrow. According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, Chase, who is listed as questionable after being limited in practice while dealing with a back injury, will be a true gametime decision, working out Sunday morning in order to determine whether or not he will be able to play.

If Chase is unable to go tomorrow, that will leave Cincinnati with an active roster lineup of Tyler Boyd, Trenton Irwin, and sixth-round rookie Andrei Iosivas. That trio has combined for 51 catches, 424 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. Chase alone has 64 receptions for 697 yards and four touchdowns. His presence against the Texans could be crucial in keeping a hot Bengals team rolling.

Knowing that they will be extremely short-staffed, Cincinnati has elected to promote two practice squad wide receivers as their standard gameday elevations, choosing Stanley Morgan and undrafted rookie Shedrick Jackson. Morgan has been with the team for the last five seasons, catching five balls for 29 yards over that time. Jackson would be making his NFL debut tomorrow after averaging 13.2 yards per catch over a five-year college career at Auburn.

We should know more tomorrow about the Bengals’ full situation at wide receiver, most notably Chase’s availability. Burrow and the rest of the offense will have to be at their best knowing that the wide receiver corps will be a bit thin.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Rudolph, Ravens

The Bengals will have some important financial decisions to make in the coming months. Quarterback Joe Burrow is eyeing a sizable pay day on his first NFL extension, but the organization will also have to make important decisions on wideout Tee Higgins and linebacker Logan Wilson.

Naturally, the front office is hoping they’ll be able to retain their entire core. Speaking to reporters the other day, Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn stated that the organization would like to re-sign all of their notable extension-eligible players, and she added that Burrow’s impending contract shouldn’t impact the status of players like Higgins or Wilson.

“They’re all great guys that we love having and want to have for a while on our team,” she said (via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “So just a process that always plays out how it plays out however it plays out we’ll be looking at all of the options and alternatives and thinking about what we might be able to get done.”

Wilson, a 2020 third-round pick, has emerged as one of Cincy’s most reliable defenders. He’s started all 28 of his regular season appearances over the past two years, collecting 223 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. Considering the organization’s eventual investment in their offense, it makes sense that they’d want to retain one of their defensive leaders.

Meanwhile, many have wondered if the Bengals will be able to afford both Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, who is eligible for an extension next offseason. Blackburn noted that the front office has time on their side as they look to fit in extensions for their key players, but she also hinted that the team’s ability to re-sign the two wide receivers will be dependent on the players themselves.

“We’ll find out,” Blackburn responded when asked if the Bengals could afford both receivers. “You know it, there are so many things that come into play. So, we’ll just play it by ear as we go and do our best to see where we can get to.”

More notes out of the AFC North…

  • The Steelers have Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky atop their quarterbacks depth chart, but the front office could continue to add to the position. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, the organization would like to add a developmental quarterback to the mix. As the writer notes, that QB would likely be added via the draft, although he notes that the organization could choose to bring back Mason Rudolph, who is still only 27.
  • The Ravens are currently armed with the 22nd pick in the draft, but it remains to be seen if they’ll end up making a selection at that point in the draft. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes that the Ravens are probably more likely to trade back than they are to make a selection at No. 22. The Ravens only have five picks in the upcoming draft, and while the front office may state publicly that they’re fine with the lack of selections, Zrebiec opines that they’ll be hunting for more picks. General manager Eric DeCosta previously hinted that the organization could be looking to make a trade in the first round. “We’ve got five picks. We wish we had more,” the GM said (via Zrebiec). “Our goal is probably to get more along the way if we can, depending on how things fall. But we see a great opportunity for us to add some quality players and be a better football team.”
  • There have been a few coaching changes in the division. James Urban, who was previously the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach, and Craig Ver Steeg, who was Baltimore’s running backs coach, have been reassigned to senior football analyst/game-planning roles, per Zrebiec. The team also switched Keith Williams from pass game specialist to assistant wide receivers coach. Meanwhile, the Steelers announced that they’ve hired Glenn Thomas to be an offensive assistant coach. Thomas brings more than 20 years of coaching experience in both college and the NFL.

Ja’Marr Chase To Play In Week 13

DECEMBER 4: The Bengals announced that Chase is indeed active, as expected, which will give the Bengals both members of their 1-2 receiving duo once again. Mixon, however, will be inactive for the second consecutive game.

DECEMBER 2: Chase is on track to make his return against the Chiefs, Taylor said Friday. Mixon, however, remains in concussion protocol. The Bengals are not ruling out their well-paid running back, but he is running out of time to make a return in this key intraconference game.

NOVEMBER 30: Although Week 12 loomed as Ja’Marr Chase‘s comeback window, the second-year Bengals receiver indicated pregame discomfort. Chase said (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe, on Twitter) he asked Zac Taylor for one more week to move to 100%.

The Bengals, naturally, obliged and beat the Titans without Chase or Joe Mixon. They will face the AFC-leading Chiefs in Week 13. Chase, who fared rather well in the Bengals’ two Chiefs matchups last season, said he suffered a hairline fracture in his hip against the Saints in Week 6. While he played through the issue in Week 7 against the Falcons, the Bengals shut him down soon after.

No hip labrum tear occurred, Chase added (via cleveland.com’s Andrew Gillis and ESPN.com’s Ben Baby; Twitter links), but the fracture happened, confusingly, as he faked being hurt while scoring the first of his two touchdowns against New Orleans. The Offensive Rookie of the Year said he has no pain in his hip presently. Chase detailing his injury to this degree certainly points to a long-awaited return.

The Bengals are 3-1 without their top weapon but rocketed to Super Bowl LVI due to major contributions from last year’s No. 5 overall pick. Chase broke Jerry Butler‘s 42-year-old single-game record for receiving yards by a rookie, compiling 266 in Cincinnati’s Week 17 win over Kansas City last season. He added six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals’ comeback win in the AFC championship game.

This season, Chase sits eighth in the NFL with 86.4 receiving yards per game. Tee Higgins has picked up the slack for Cincinnati recently. The third-year wideout has 16 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games. The Bengals are amid a stretch in which they face either a division leader or a team with a winning record in six of their final seven games; having Chase back would certainly help the defending AFC champions’ cause.

Latest On Ja’Marr Chase’s Timetable

NOVEMBER 20: Several reports from earlier this week suggested that the goal of a Week 12 return may be overly optimistic. First, ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted that Chase had not yet returned to practice, and then Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that Chase was recently seen on crutches. Florio was clear that the crutches were used as a precautionary measure and were not necessary, but it still created the belief that Chase’s return to action would be delayed.

However, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Sunday that Chase is off crutches and is improving. He will have a chance to practice in the coming week and still might suit up for Week 12 (video link).

NOVEMBER 17: After stringing together back-to-back 130-plus-yard performances, Ja’Marr Chase encountered a hip injury. That issue has shut him down for the past three weeks, but the Bengals did not place their No. 1 wide receiver on IR. The team’s decision to go week-to-week here might end up being prudent.

Coming off their bye, the Bengals are not expected to have Chase available. But the defending AFC champions have zeroed in on a Week 12 matchup against the Titans as a point for a Chase relaunch, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. The second-year wideout is rehabbing a hip flexor strain sustained in Week 7.

Had the Bengals placed Chase on IR, he would be shut down through at least Week 13. Hopes of a return in time for a playoff rematch against the Titans represent a positive development here. When word of Chase’s hip injury surfaced, the former No. 5 overall pick did not have a firm timetable and was still seeking out information regarding the issue.

Chase played 28 straight games (counting playoff contests) to start his NFL career, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and zooming toward the top tier at the receiver position. After being held under 100 yards in four straight games, he re-emerged with strong performances against the Saints and Falcons, helping the Bengals to 30-plus-point showings in each contest. Chase’s 86.4 yards per game rank seventh in the league this season.

The Bengals’ offense initially flatlined without its star pass catcher, failing to establish much in a blowout loss to the Browns. But Joe Mixon‘s five-touchdown outing against the Panthers led to a Week 9 bounce-back offering. The Ravens lead the Bengals by a game in the AFC North and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The prospect of Chase coming back before December obviously stands to aid the Bengals in their quest to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since the 1981-82 seasons.

Zac Taylor: WR Ja’Marr Chase Won’t Be Placed On IR

It sounds like there’s some optimism around Ja’Marr Chase‘s ability to return from a hip injury. Zac Taylor told reporters that his star receiver will not be placed on injured reserve,per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic on Twitter. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport clarifies (on Twitter) that Chase is now considered week-to-week.

This is an about-face from what we heard the other day. Chase’s hip flexor strain was expected to keep him off the field for at least four weeks, making an IR stint likely. It never sounded like surgery was an option, which provided a bit of hope that the WR would simply return whenever he felt good enough to play. Ultimately, the Bengals are banking on Chase being ready to go at some point over the next four contests.

Chase has already been ruled out for Monday’s game against the Browns, and it seems unlikely he’ll take the field in Week 9. The Bengals have a bye during Week 10, so perhaps the organization is eyeing a Week 11 or Week 12 return.

“The timing,” Taylor said when asked about the decision to keep Chase off IR (via Dehner on Twitter). “The bye week helps. The overall prognosis of how it could play out factors in to that.”

Chase suffered the injury back in Week 6 against the Saints. He still managed to take the field for Week 7, hauling in eight receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Fortunately for the Bengals, the team has a relatively deep grouping of receivers to help pick up the slack while Chase is out of the lineup. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd will lead the way, but Cincy is also rostering the likes of Trent Taylor, Mike Thomas, and Stanley Morgan.

Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase Likely Headed To IR

Ja’Marr Chase‘s hot streak has helped the Bengals to back-to-back wins, but the star wide receiver will not be in uniform for a bit. A hip injury is expected to sideline Chase for at least a month, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

After Chase visited a hip specialist Wednesday, per Schefter, he continues to seek input about the injury. An injured reserve stay may be in the cards for the LSU product, who did not miss a game as a rookie. An IR stay is, in fact, anticipated here, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes, adding that the 6-foot-1 pass catcher is battling a hip flexor strain. He is not expected to need surgery, per Dehner, keeping a near-future return on the table.

Chase suffered the injury against the Saints but managed three practices — including a full workout Friday — leading up to the Bengals’ Week 7 game. He scored two more touchdowns against the Falcons, helping Joe Burrow to a dominant performance. But the Bengals will need to get by without their top weapon for a while.

Over the past two weeks, Chase has combined for 15 receptions, 262 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Chase’s rise since being drafted fifth overall last year has obviously been a central component in the Bengals’ ascent. His absence will put more on the shoulders of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. While the Bengals have a strong supporting duo, these two have not been asked to go it alone since before Chase’s NFL debut.

This news comes as the Bengals (4-3) have made their way back from 0-2, moving into a tie with the Ravens atop the AFC North. Cincinnati has a Week 10 bye but will face Cleveland, Carolina and Pittsburgh over the next month. With Schefter indicating this injury could sideline Chase for up to six weeks, the Bengals could be challenged late into the season. Chase still seeking answers also should caution against setting a firm timeline here.

Beyond Higgins and Boyd, the Bengals roster Trent Taylor, Mike Thomas and Stanley Morgan. Both Higgins and Boyd have posted 455 yards this season, trailing Chase’s 605 (sixth in the NFL). Among the team’s other wideouts, only Thomas has a reception this season. Thomas has two catches for 38 yards; he has also been with the team for three seasons. Taylor has played a role in the past, and the ex-49ers slot serves as the Bengals’ primary punt returner. He caught a two-point conversion during the team’s AFC championship game comeback last season.

Poll: Which Rookie Wide Receiver Will Finish With Most Receiving Yards?

This past week we asked you which rookie running back would finish with the most yards in 2021, and now we’re turning our attention to the wide receivers. This year’s wideout class was a great one, with three going in the top ten picks.

Two more then went later in the first round, and then five were off the board in the second. The crop included reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and LSU star Ja’Marr Chase who was reunited in Cincinnati with college teammate Joe Burrow.

Chase became the first receiver off the board when the Bengals nabbed him with the fifth overall pick. He should already have great chemistry with Burrow, so he’s got that working in his favor. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are still there, but the team moving on from A.J. Green this offseason means Chase should see plenty of opportunity right away. Will his rapport with Burrow and a potentially improved Cincy O-line be enough for him to seize the rookie receiving title?

The following pick, the Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle from Alabama at number six. Waddle is also reconnecting with an old college quarterback as he’ll re-team with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. His blazing fast speed gives him plenty of upside, although working against him is the fact that he missed a good chunk of the 2020 season due to injury. Will Fuller will have to sit out the first game of the 2021 season with a suspension, but DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki will also be competing for targets.

Smith *also* is getting paired back up with a familiar face under center. The Heisman winner played with Eagles second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts at Alabama. Despite winning the award for best college football player in the country, Smith was the third wideout taken. Will he use that as added motivation and come out with a chip on his shoulder? He certainly shouldn’t struggle for playing time with Philly’s receiving depth chart being thin as ever. Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, and Greg Ward Jr. are all he has to compete with.

The other two first-rounders were Kadarius Toney from Florida to the Giants at 20 and Rashod Bateman from Minnesota to the Ravens at 27. Toney surprised New York by skipping OTAs and apparently might begin the year in a gadget role as he’s buried behind Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram in the pecking order, so he’s got his work cut out for him. Bateman has a path to a breakout with Baltimore in desperate need of receiving help, but the Ravens’ passing game is going to be a wild card.

Elijah Moore was the next big name, with the Ole Miss product going to the Jets at 34. He’s also got upside, but has a few guys ahead of him and will have a rookie quarterback throwing to him. Rondale Moore (Purdue) to the Cardinals at 49, D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan) to the Seahawks at 56, Tutu Atwell (Louisville) to the Rams at 57, and Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU) to the Panthers at 59 round out the rest of the round two receivers.

So, what do you think? Which receiver will rack up the most yards in 2021? Who are the later-round candidates or UDFAs who can join these players as early contributors? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Bengals Sign Ja’Marr Chase

It’s officially official. On Wednesday, the Bengals formally signed first-round wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. They also inked third-round defensive end Joseph Ossai, completing their ten-man draft class. 

Chase opted out of the 2020 season at LSU, but that didn’t bother NFL evaluators much. In the previous year, Chase set SEC single-season records in receiving yards (1,780) and receiving touchdowns (20). That same Burrow-led offense produced three skill position players that went in the first round of the 2020 draft, including Justin Jefferson. Chase, according to many scouts, is an even better prospect.

I thought Chase was on a different level [than Jefferson],” one scout told The Athletic earlier this year. “Watching what Jefferson did this year (with the Vikings), that just makes me say, ‘Good Lord.’ Honestly, I thought (Chase) was the best receiver in the class last year.”

All in all, Chase’s 27 career games (21 starts) saw 98 catches for 2093 yards and 23 TDs. He also notched eight career 100-yard receiving games, including three 200-yard showings.

Here’s the full rundown of the Bengals’ 2021 draft class — now signed from top to bottom:

North Notes: Chase, Steelers, Vikings

The Bengals encountered some scrutiny for passing on Penei Sewell to take Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5, given their issues on the offensive line. But the Chase-over-Sewell stance formed weeks ahead of the draft. Bengals brass went to Joe Burrow for a detailed opinion on this matter. Chase having played a key part in Burrow winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes the second-year quarterback gave his ex-LSU teammate a strong endorsement. Chase-to-Cincinnati gained considerable steam ahead of the draft, and the Bengals followed through with the move to add the impact receiver prospect to a wideout group that includes Tyler Boyd and 2020 second-rounder Tee Higgins. The Bengals viewed Chase as the kind of talent too good to pass up, Fowler adds. The Bengals drafted offensive linemen in the second, fourth and sixth rounds, with Jackson Carman — whom the team selected after trading down eight spots — being the most notable of these additions.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Continuing recent tradition, the Raiders surprised draft viewers with their first-round pick. The Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime chose Alex Leatherwood 17th overall. The Alabama tackle was viewed by most as a major reach; Scouts Inc. rated him as this draft’s 60th-best prospect. The Raiders may have been leery of two teams eyeing Leatherwood in the back half of Round 1, however. The Steelers and Vikings had Leatherwood on their respective radars, per Fowler. The Vikings drafted Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw (Scouts Inc.’s No. 20 overall prospect) at No. 23. Pittsburgh preferred him to most of the draft’s second-tier tackles, but the team appeared locked in on ex-Leatherwood teammate Najee Harris at No. 24. Leatherwood is expected to work as a right tackle in Las Vegas.
  • Although the Steelers’ depth chart has the look of one that would benefit from a veteran tackle addition, they do not appear to be eyeing one in the post-draft period of free agency. Despite Alejandro Villanueva defecting to the Ravens and the Steelers not drafting a tackle before Round 4, the team likes its left tackle setup, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Pittsburgh lost three O-line starters — Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler — this offseason and is planning to move right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to the left side. Pro Football Focus viewed Okorafor as one of the league’s worst tackles in 2020, grading him 70th at the position. Okorafor spent the 2018 and ’19 seasons as a backup, moving into the Steelers’ starting lineup after Zach Banner‘s Week 1 ACL tear. Banner has re-signed and is expected to compete for the right tackle job.
  • Thanks to the Lions’ $13.5MM-per-year extension for Frank Ragnow, the NFL has a new highest-paid center.
  • The Bears did not become aggressive in their effort to trade up for Justin Fields until draft day, when they identified a few teams as trade-down candidates and engaged in negotiations.

Bengals Draft LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase

With the No. 5 pick in the NFL Draft, the Bengals selected LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. The pick reunites Chase with his old college pal Joe Burrow and gives the Bengals one of the brightest offensive talents in this year’s class.

In 2019, Chase set SEC single-season records in receiving yards (1,780) and receiving touchdowns (20). That same Burrow-led offense produced three skill position players that went in the first round of the 2020 draft, including Justin Jefferson. Jefferson, according to many scouts, is an even better prospect.

I thought Chase was on a different level [than Jefferson],” one scout told The Athletic earlier this year. “Watching what Jefferson did this year (with the Vikings), that just makes me say, ‘Good Lord.’ Honestly, I thought (Chase) was the best receiver in the class last year.”

After capturing the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore, Chase opted out of the 2020 season. The 6-foot, 208-pounder may have a little rust to shake, but evaluators aren’t too concerned. Based on talent alone, some had Chase slotted as the third-best player in this year’s class, behind only Trevor Lawrence and Kyle Pitts.