When the Cincinnati Bengals drafted LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick, there were plenty of questions ranging from his fit in the offense to whether or not Cincy should have selected an offensive lineman. However, one question no one at the time was asking was about the rookie's ability to simply catch the ball.
After several weeks of training camp and two preseason tilts, the drops are all anyone in Cincinnati can talk about now. Chase flubbed all three of his targets in Friday's 17-13 preseason loss to Washington. It seemed as though the rookie was fighting the ball.
Ahead of Sunday's practice, coach Zac Taylor was asked if Chase's confidence might be wavering.
"I don't think he's short on confidence. That's a good thing," the coach responded, via The Athletic. "Guys are building him up. Just talking to (Tyler Boyd) and all these guys, these guys all struggled with coming in as a rookie. The expectations are so high that you expect him to be a star right out the gate. But it takes work. You gotta put in the work. That consistency comes over time, and by no means are we down on Ja'Marr. He's just going through some of the things rookies go through in training camp, and we expect him to improve over the course of this week."
After Chase sat out the entire 2020 collegiate season, it shouldn't come as a total surprise that he's going through struggles as he knocks off the rust at the NFL level.
We've only been privy to the negatives regarding the rookie receiver, from reports of a lack of separation during camp practices to the drops Friday. Chase again reportedly dropped two more passes during Sunday's practice, including one that hit him right in the hands, exasperating the consternation surrounding the first-round pick.
Earlier this month, Chase downplayed his issues, noting that "Rome wasn't built in a day." Since then, he keeps dropping the stones witch which he should have been building that proverbial empire.
Chase's talent coming out of LSU was undeniable. It's the reason the Bengals elected to pair him with Joe Burrow rather than add an offensive lineman. The young receiver is simply dealing with the struggles that many rookies encounter at some point during their first season. The question is whether Chase will mentally adjust and get past the struggles or allow them to haunt him for the entirety of his first season.