How Bengals stars Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase are getting ready for Superdome return

The last time Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase took the field at the Superdome, they won a national championship.

Burrow and Chase led the LSU Tigers to a 42-25 win and to this day, football fans talk about that team as one of, if not, the best college football team in history.

LSU hasn’t been the same since Chase and Burrow left and that’s why Sunday’s Bengals-Saints game makes things interesting for the casual Louisiana sports fan. Their head tells them to root for the Saints, but their heart tells them to cheer for Burrow and Chase because they’ve brought the most recent championship to the state.

Burrow said Sunday will bring back special memories on which to reminisce. How could he not? That game alone and the celebration that ensued practically made him a legend in Louisiana and a superstar. He also played one of the best games of his college career at the Superdome. Against Clemson, Burrow threw 31 passes for 463 yards and five touchdowns.

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“Yeah, it does,” Burrow said. “It’s a place that a lot of good memories were made. But it’s a business trip. We’re going in to win a game. I’m excited to go back excited to see all the fans that supported me but they’re not going to be cheering for us this time.”

LSU football fans could be in the Superdome to support Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase

For this game against the Saints, it’s highly likely there’s going to be a lot of LSU “Burreaux” jerseys in the stands. The Superdome is one of the hardest places to play for a road team and the Bengals are preparing for it. Head coach Zac Taylor said his team will be practicing in their new indoor facility on Friday to simulate Sunday’s game as best as they can.

After dropping a close game to the Ravens in Week 5, the pressure is starting to heat up for the Bengals, specifically on offense. And there might not be a better place for Burrow and Chase to have their “prove it” moment than somewhere they’re both extremely comfortable.

Chase was Burrow’s leading receiver in the national championship win over Clemson. The star wide receiver caught nine passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Chase attended Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, Louisiana about 15 minutes across the river, he says.

“It’s going to be fun going back home and playing for the first time since college,” Chase said on Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase celebrate after an LSU win with their special pinky handshake they still do to this day
Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase celebrate after an LSU win with their special pinky handshake they still do to this day

Chase said he’s already requested 15 tickets for his family and friends. And, yes, he already knows what food he’s going to get the night before the game. It’s a staple for him: A VooDoo roll stuffed with shrimp, crawfish and other sauces from New Orleans Food and Spirits.

There's one coach on the Bengals' staff who saw what Chase and Burrow were like at LSU before anyone else and that's assistant wide receivers coach Brad Kragthorpe. He was an offensive analyst at LSU when Burrow first transferred from Ohio State and Chase was a true freshman. Kragthorpe played quarterback at LSU at for three years (2012-15) with star wide receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.

Now, having coached both Chase and Burrow at the college and pro level, Kragthorpe is the least surprised of their success and rise to fame.

"You could see it from Day 1," Kragthorpe. "Both of them. With Joe, it was just his mindset and his competitive nature. He was going to have success, regardless of what he was doing. If he wasn't playing football, he could be an incredibly successful businessman if he wanted to be just because of the way he is wired. And then Ja'Marr, again, the first time you saw him on the practice field, he looked different from any other receiver. I played with Odell and Jarvis when I was at LSU as a player, and he was that type of talent. You could see it from Day 1.

Even with all the hype, Chase wants to keep things the same. Yes, he’s excited to play in front of his friends and family, but he’s treated it as a regular game.

“Every game is another game to me,” Chase said. “Every game is a regular game. It’s not too much I need hype up.”

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The Bengals need Chase to have a big game to win this weekend. Tee Higgins is dealing with an ankle injury and it’s unclear if he’s going to be able to play. Even if he does, you won’t see Higgins at his best. This offense feeds off Burrow and Chase’s connection and they’ve yet to hit on the explosive plays fans were accustomed to seeing in 2021.

Chase wants the ball in his hands at all times to deliver for his team. All he cares about, besides getting his VooDoo roll of course, is leaving his hometown with a win.

As long as the Bengals get to 3-3, he’ll be happy.

“I’m just doing my job,” Chase said. “I want to be the best player on the field. I want to strive to put up the crazy stat of course but whatever is helping the team win, anyway possible I can help the team win, I don’t have to go crazy. I’m not really tripping. I just want to win the game and make sure we make the playoffs.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Bengals Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase getting ready for Superdome return