Cincinnati Bengals training camp is off and running, with the team looking to build off last season’s incredible run and capture that illusive Lombardi Trophy. There are plenty of storylines to follow, but the talk around second year wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is much different than that of a year ago.
This time last summer, we were hearing reports of drop issues from the then rookie, who was coming off of a season where he sat out in college amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking heads from all over took aim at not only Chase, but the Bengals for selecting him over offensive tackle Penei Sewell.
The noise got loud, but quickly began to fade after just the first game of the season. From there, Chase went on a tear. Setting new rookie receiving yard records in both the regular and postseason, “Uno” left zero doubt about whether or not he could catch an NFL football. The reports on Chase from training camp this year are much different and are something opposing defenses should be concerned about.
As franchise cornerstone Joe Burrow recovers from an appendectomy, backup quarterback Brandon Allen has gotten an up close look at where Chase stands heading in to his second season and from what he says, Chase may have another level, and he appears to be nearing it.
“It’s already scary to see him improve,” Allen said, via Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “He’s got a lot freer in his routes and disciplined in his routes. That’s because he’s been in the system for a whole year now so he’s got a big understanding of what the route needs to look like, how I can get myself open to work little techniques here and there. That will make him even better.”
Chase was on record saying he understood how to set his routes up better after his first season, and it appears he’s now applying it in real football situations. If his route running and technique have improved, one can only imagine the numbers he can put up this season, with what should be a vastly improved offensive line from last season.
With these improvements, maybe he can improve that Madden ranking everyone was talking about.