Bengals Not 'Down' on Ja'Marr Chase Despite WR's Struggle with Drops, Zac Taylor Says

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2021

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) runs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

Despite some early struggles with drops, the Cincinnati Bengals are still optimistic about Ja'Marr Chase heading into his rookie season.

"By no means are we down on Ja'Marr," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Sunday, per Ben Baby of ESPN. "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."

Chase was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 draft, but he was held without a catch during Friday's preseason game against the Washington Football Team. He finished the game with three drops on three targets, per Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.

The receiver's lone catch in two preseason games came on a screen against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that went for 16 yards.

The issue with drops also carried over into practice Sunday:

Joe Danneman @FOX19Joe

First pass to Ja’Marr Chase in 11-on-11. Square in, perfect ball from Burrow, drop. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a>

Ben Baby @Ben_Baby

Ja'Marr Chase just dropped a potential TD in red zone 7-on-7. Ended up being a Vonn Bell INT

Chase could be rusty after opting out of the 2020 season at LSU amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bengals are still going to be patient with the talented player.

"The expectations are so high that you expect him to be a star right out the gate," Taylor said. "But it takes work. You gotta put in the work. That consistency comes over time."

The 21-year-old showcased his upside in 2019 while helping LSU win the national championship alongside current Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Chase finished that season with 84 catches for 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in 14 games.

Cincinnati clearly still believes he will be a difference-maker despite his early struggles.