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Camp Stuff ahead of Pre-season Game 3

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1 hour ago, COB said:

Surely Chase hasn’t permanently forgotten how to catch a football.  Just choking a little.  He’ll catch a few in a row and be back, though he’s not AJ Green as far as catching goes.  He only had like 3 drops his senior year, I think, but some observers have noted he hasn’t caught the ball great all camp.  That year off isn’t in the rear view mirror yet.

Someone on Twitter, might have been Liscow or Goodberry, I don’t recall, looked at his drops and they were all hand placement issues (hands above and below the ball versus hands toward the QB) that are common with receivers dealing with new/backup QBs. In short this should not be an issue going forward. Once he gets back in a groove with Burrow things should be fine.

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Just got home from the seven hour drive back  - apparently way better today for chase and the offense in practice. Whoever found and killed the guy cursing our draft picks, thank you.

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1 hour ago, Stripes said:

They'll never find him under my floorboards.

Thanks for your service. 

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I’m at an industry conference in Lexington, tons of Bengals fans here.  Two this afternoon have mentioned Ja’marr Chase being in trouble, like big trouble.  Any insight from anyone?  I’ve searched and Google reveals nothing.

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If they're not talking about drops (snore), they're probably making up b/s conversation as a group to pass the time at whatever misery they otherwise must endure at an "industry conference".

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38 minutes ago, COB said:

I’m at an industry conference in Lexington, tons of Bengals fans here.  Two this afternoon have mentioned Ja’marr Chase being in trouble, like big trouble.  Any insight from anyone?  I’ve searched and Google reveals nothing.

There was an instagram post accusing him of "putting his hands on a pregnant woman," whatever you think that means. I believe it was the same woman posting it who posted something about Chase refusing to wipe his ass earlier this year. I think she might be his ex or his girlfriend, I dunno. In any event my understanding is that the posts have since been deleted. Bengals twitter has been buzzing about it, but as far as I can tell there's no news story or police report or video or anything, just random instagram bs. I suppose something might emerge but right now it looks like a nothingburger.

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https://theathletic.com/2788473/2021/08/25/bengals-doing-what-they-can-to-help-rookie-wr-jamarr-chase-work-through-drop-issues/?source=emp_shared_article

Dehner's latest is quite a good read:

 

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CINCINNATI — The email showed up in the inbox of Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, wide receivers coach Troy Walters and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and read almost like a spam link.

Not quite “cONfiRm yOUr AmAZoN aCCouNt”-level spam, but almost as hard to believe. Only, the sender wasn’t unknown. It came from offensive line coach Frank Pollack, and he could confirm the premise because he remembers being there.

“Jerry Rice, rookie bust.

 

”  https://www.footballoutsiders.com/walkthrough/2006/too-deep-zone-jerry-rice-rookie-bust

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Pollack forwarded the Football Outsiders story, written by Mike Tanier in 2006, as a reminder of what has happened early in the careers of many receivers entering the league, including the best to ever do it.

Pollack can recall the conversations because he played for the 49ers in 1990 with Rice in his prime, and people still talked then about how five years earlier Bill Walsh had to stand in front of the media in San Francisco and declare support for the rookie despite intense scrutiny as he struggled mightily with drops and inconsistent play.

“He was just sharing his perspective,” Callahan said of the email. “This isn’t the first time this has ever happened.”

Rice notably switched from not wearing gloves to wearing them, then reversing course to no gloves midseason, after he already had dropped 10 passes. He was getting booed by fans and everyone had a theory as to why the 16th overall pick out of Mississippi Valley State — and future 10-time All-Pro — was looking like a bust.

The Bengals are far from even the level of concern that unfolded midway through Rice’s rookie year when it comes to Ja’Marr Chase. They are dealing with a case of the drops and a rookie with high expectations to match an equally high learning curve. One with only four career preseason targets to his name.

That doesn’t mean they haven’t reached an important juncture in addressing the issues.

“You feel the urgency,” Callahan said. “This is happening for real, really fast. It’s not April anymore. We are playing in a short amount of time and it counts. You only get so many opportunities. So you do feel that.”

What the Bengals feel is the question of how to help the rookie move past days like Friday in Washington and produce more days like Monday in Cincinnati. During Monday’s practice, Chase made a series of catches without a drop, most notably a leaping, twisting red zone touchdown catch at the front pylon. The sense is the same as what Walsh uttered with Rice: Stay calm, it will come.

 

 

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The explosion of teammate celebration following the play illustrated a cast of teammates who feel the same and were waiting like thoroughbreds at the gate to show love to big plays from the No. 5 pick.

“We know and he knows what type of guy he is,” said Tyler Boyd, who endured a notably rocky first two years in the NFL as a second-round pick. “It’s more so the mental side. I think he’ll get over that, he’ll start making more plays because we’ll continue to go to him. And he knows myself and Tee (Higgins), Joe (Burrow) and everybody else, ‘We got your back, bro.’

“Like I said, it’s not easy, especially being out in this league. But everything else he’s doing, he’s done right. He knows what to do, he knows how to run his routes, he’s winning, it’s just he’s overthinking at the catch point.”

No sense of real concern about Chase in the long run has been uttered from anyone, from coaches to players, but there is a balance to addressing and fixing the drops. When he’s overthinking at the catch point, the last thing Chase needs from the coaching side would be more analysis. Yet, whatever problems are causing it need to be broken down and repped out of the system.

“There’s a balance,” Callahan said. “Me getting all mad and Zac getting all mad and everybody getting on him all the time doesn’t do any good. He knows he’s supposed to catch the ball. So you balance that with what are you doing specifically? What is the problem? Are your eyes late? Are your hands late? What is the core of the issue? Are you worried about what’s around you? What is it we are missing? Are your eyes coming off the ball when you go to make a catch? That’s happened a few times. You try to work on those things instead of the actual catching of the football.”

There are drills with tennis balls Walters likes to employ for hand-eye coordination or arriving early and staying late for extra work on the Juggs gun. That’s not really what fixes the problem, though. Boyd and Tee Higgins both can attest and share the same advice with their teammate

 

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Higgins was a slow starter last year as well. A hamstring injury put him behind in training camp, but he struggled to catch up to NFL game speed early. He sat behind John Ross and took only 15 snaps in the opener against the Chargers. Performance was rocky when he did play over the next few weeks.

He still vividly recalls a drop that could have won the game in Philadelphia. He showed his hands too early and it cost the team. Lesson learned. Still, he caught two touchdown passes that day and confidence started to build. By the time he hauled in a 67-yard bomb against Indianapolis, he felt like himself. It takes time.

He said expectations can feel “overwhelming” early; Higgins certainly felt them last year. It’s just a matter of hitting stride and believing. That’s why the second-year wideout hasn’t been offering advice to the rookie going through a similar road to the one he just traveled.

“Honestly, I don’t,” Higgins said. “At the end of the day, I just want him to be him and don’t worry about what the critics say or what other people expect of him. I just tell him ‘Just be you at the end of the day. We all know you’re a baller. You were drafted here for a reason. So just be you.'”

Taylor seemed to laugh at the idea of Chase’s confidence potentially being dinged by the struggles of the preseason game and uneven practices. Much like the quarterback who throws him the ball, the 21-year-old has never lacked for self-belief. But this game can test even the most confident of young players.

Staying insular and not letting the outside forces penetrate daily life can be hard for somebody who has mostly been told how great he is at football since he starting catching one. Now questions arise and there’s no running from the obvious.

“He had a few drops, the pressure is on,” Boyd said. “Just talking to him outside football, seeing what he’s feeling. Obviously, everybody’s been telling him to catch the ball. He knows that. I just think the more you overhear things, the more and more you start to think about it consistently. That’s when it’s time when we keep hearing it and then that time comes where you’re at the moment to make the catch and you’re thinking about other stuff, you think about what other people are going to say, if you do drop that or what. So I’m just trying to get him to just block out all the negativity. Block out everybody else but him and the DB. Figure out how to beat him, and once the catch point comes, just make the play.”

Time will tell how the Bengals handle snap counts early in the season for Chase, and those behind him on the depth chart would help alleviate the pressure. Taylor preached earlier this week that the rest of the offense that hasn’t struggled much with consistent execution can offset a feeling that the rookie needs to be the hero immediately. That includes his immediate backup Auden Tate, with Boyd and Higgins, first and foremost.

Meanwhile, the Bengals’ plan is to continue to recognize where Chase needs to keep getting up to speed, not screaming about drops.

His teammates would give him a hard time early in camp when a mistake like that would happen. There was no reason to believe it would continue with no history of it in Chase’s past. C.J. Uzomah said he would razz Chase about it just to keep him loose out there.

The razzing won’t stop just because it’s become a more prominent issue.

“Definitely going to stay on it,” Higgins said. “At the end of the day, he has to catch the ball. We are going to stay on him. Just can’t let it get to him. Everybody has drops. I had a few drops last year. Just have to move on and get better and work on it after practice.”

Work the problem now and see where things stand come the opener against Minnesota. If that means leaning more on the rest of the offense, that might be the case until Chase finds his way.

“It’s hard to make a transition,” Callahan said. “Everything is faster, everyone is better. The things you were generally better than whoever you played against don’t show up anymore. You have to be detailed in whatever your plan is against whatever coverage you are seeing. You have to see the coverage, feel the leverage. You have to do all these things that generally are pretty new. Even Ja’Marr, who played against seven or eight drafted corners, those aren’t eight-year veterans that have played a lot of football and aren’t afraid of you.

“It’s been good for him. His learning curve has been steep and he’s managed to get through it, but it hasn’t been without its issues.”

Chase is learning about today’s NFL issues. In the process, the Bengals coaches are learning more about the league’s past. No matter how much the NFL changes, some aspects of player development and the human condition of expectations sure don’t.

“It was a whole big thing which I never remembered because I was one year old, but it was an interesting piece,” Callahan said of Rice’s backstory. “Here was the greatest wide receiver in the history of football who had struggles. It’s just part of it.”

 

 

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Just catching up on rest of news ---

1. 1st team D will not play on Sunday (GOOD - last thing we need is Hendrickson or Hubbard to get hurt in that one or Reader or Ogunjobi)

2. Spain and XSF are starting guards on Sunday when Burrow in game (which, good, I have always assumed the vets would get the first shot at this)

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The full ZT remarks on playing Burrow are embedded here I think:

 

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