For top-five pick Ja’Marr Chase, the transition to the NFL may not have been as easy as he had hoped.
Without even stepping foot onto the field in a real game yet, training camp has already given him a glimpse of how difficult it’ll be getting back into the swing of things, especially after he didn’t play at all in 2020.
“I would say the only difficult thing was my quickness. Not as in quickness like with athletic ability, but mind quickness, reaction time quickness,” Chase told The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr.
Chase went on to have a great practice with ESPN’s Ben Baby outlining a positive from the day relating to the rookie who seems to be better picking up the speed of the NFL each day of practice.
Ja'Marr Chase just had a good catch in 7-on-7s. Made a contested grab over the middle and went to the ground fighting two guys off to keep the ball.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 11, 2021
He wasn’t the only player that was able to have a solid practice on Wednesday though. Larry Ogunjobi, who is set to be the Cincinnati Bengals’ starting defensive tackle, played well as well, breaking up through the middle for what would typically be a sack of the quarterback.
Larry Ogunjobi with another big play in 11s. He got by Xavier Su’a-Filo and hit Chris Evans in the backfield.— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 11, 2021
It wasn’t just one play for Ogunjobi but several in which he stood out. With D.J. Reader and prized offseason addition Trey Hendrickson also on the defensive line, there’s hope that for the unit to be drastically better than last season.
Lastly, Joe Burrow seemed to get back on track. In a scorching hot day of practice, Burrow delivered an absolute dime. This one had to feel good for Burrow as his struggles at camp have been gaining national attention.
Former LSU teammate Thaddeus Moss, who’s been relatively quiet this camp, made a big play down the middle as he looks to win a roster spot and possibly even have a significant role behind C.J. Uzomah.
Thad Moss with a great diving catch while running down the seam in two-minute drill. Brandon Allen with a nice throw. Akeem David-Gaither was right there in coverage, Moss just made a great play.— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 11, 2021
One note from practice was that it seemed like the offensive line continued to struggle.
Cornerback Mike Hilton, who blitzed on several looks, flew by them once and could’ve annihilated Burrow (he obviously didn’t), and as noted, Ogunjobi also was able to get in the backfield on multiple occasions.
This will be a huge factor to keep an eye on as the preseason commences for Cincinnati in just a couple of days. The Bengals will continue to work ahead of their Saturday matchup with the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Also, we got this money quote from Joe Burrow on the Bengals not backing in down in what’s sure to be one of, if not the NFL’s best division this season.
“We’re not taking any moral victories out here.” - Joe Burrow on NFLN also notes his excitement about return of Joe Mixon, while noting his improvement in pass blocking— Anthony Cosenza (@CJAnthonyCUI) August 11, 2021
Ja’Marr Chase equates the need to be up for every game in the Uber-competitive SEC to the difficult AFC North.
One final note: Rookie running back Chris Evans made a nice diving grad today as he looks to win a roster spot. His pass-catching abilities were a big reason why the Bengals spent a sixth-round pick on him this year in hopes he could replace the role Giovani Bernard had before being cut this offseason.
What were your big takeaways from practice today? Let us know in the comments section!