When star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase fell to the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, quarterback Joe Burrow was ecstatic. There was already chemistry between the two going back to their record-setting 2019 season together at LSU.
And that ended up translating to the professional level. Chase ended up winning Offense Rookie of the Year with 1,444 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, with both marks ranking in the top four in the entire league.
Going into year two, the Bengals are looking to do even more with Chase in their offense.
“He’s going to be all over the field,” wide receivers coach Troy Walters said, via Bengals.com. “We’re going to use him as many ways as we can. That’s what great players want to do. They want to play everywhere.”
The wideout primarily played on the outside in his rookie season, but Cincinnati is looking to mix him into the slot on occasion in 2022. Chase may only be 22 years old, but Walters called him a “quick learner.” And he is looking forward to using his physical and mental tools to exploit defenses even more.
“It’s going to give me more space to get open and make our offense more explosive,” Chase said. “If we sit in there like robots and stay in the same position, they’re going to expect what’s coming. That’s why you move around.”
Teammate Thinks Ja’Marr Chase Will Be Successful in Slot
Cincinnati defensive back Mike Hilton – who primarily covers slot receivers – has been working against Ja’Marr Chase in training camp. He has been impressed thus far.
“He’s doing well. He’s not thinking too much, he’s just being himself. I’m excited to see him in there,” Hilton said. “The best thing a slot receiver does is find the empty zones. You have to be a really good route runner, learn how to read the zone on the fly and find a spot.”
Chase knows his success in the slot will come with more time and more reps. He will have to find more creative ways to locate openings in more trafficked areas. But he is licking his chops thinking about being matched up against slower players.
“The majority of the time the middle of the field is open and you get matched up on a linebacker or safety,” he said. “If I’m inside, I’ve got to adjust to different techniques.”
The more dynamic Chase can be with his skill-set, the more Burrow can target him. And the more terrifying the Bengals’ offense will be.