Sports

What drops? Bengals’ Chase has big NFL debut

CINCINNATI — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow‘s first words after the team’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings were aimed squarely at the discourse surrounding rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

“I thought he was dropping everything,” Burrow sarcastically quipped moments after he walked past Chase before speaking with the media for his postgame news conference.

Chase, who battled drops in the preseason, had a team-high five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in the 27-24 overtime win at Paul Brown Stadium.

The fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft said he was aware of all the chatter surrounding his catching woes and dismissed it all as “trash talk.” After the game, Chase said he was confident he’d perform when it counts.

“I know I was going to do it,” Chase said. “It was just a matter of time. Just play my game and focus on what I came here to do and that’s what I did.”

Chase had zero drops in his NFL debut that ended up being the most productive by a Bengals rookie in a season opener. He broke the yardage record previously set by Jordan Shipley, who recorded 82 yards in his debut in 2010. The former LSU product had his biggest play of the game when he went down the right sideline and hauled in a 50-yard catch for a touchdown with 35 seconds left in the first half.

“I thought he delivered,” Bengals running back Joe Mixon said. “That’s what we picked him for.”

Conversation about Chase’s catching ability was one of the dominant storylines during his rookie training camp. Last week, Chase commented on the difference between the balls in college and the NFL, which prompted a few headlines as well.

It wasn’t all media chatter, though. Burrow said that he was approached this week by some saying they hoped Chase was going to play well on Sunday. Burrow simply shrugged off the concerns for his former LSU teammate and told them not to worry. “It’s Sunday, it’s game day,” Burrow said as he recalled that conversation. “He’s going to come ready to play.”

Chase got the final word on Sunday. He caught a touchdown pass, did his signature “Griddy” dance in the end zone and showed what he brings the Bengals this season.

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