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Rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase drops three passes in Bengals' preseason loss to Washington

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LANDOVER, Md. — The Cincinnati Bengals were dealt their first preseason loss on Friday night. After taking the lead late in the third quarter, the Bengals were unable to score another touchdown.

Several starters saw action well into the first quarter, the longest head coach Zac Taylor has kept his first-team offense and defense in so far this preseason. The Bengals’ pass rush was the highlight of the night while the starting offense was unable to really ever get going in both the run and pass game.

What we learned from the Bengals’ 17-13 loss to the Washington Football Team:

Rookie Ja’Marr Chase continues to drop passes

Ever since the Bengals selected Ja’Marr Chase with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the expectations have been high. Chase was the best wide receiver in college football in 2019 and given his familiarity with quarterback Joe Burrow, his former LSU teammate, it’s hard to believe many could have guessed Chase would have the slow start he’s had.

Chase dropped three passes on Friday night and all of them came on third down. It’s worth noting most of Chase’s practice reps come when Burrow is under center and it was Brandon Allen who was throwing him the ball at FedEx Field. The Bengals expect Chase to catch the ball, Chase does too. But there is something to be said about timing with quarterbacks and wide receivers and if Chase and Allen aren’t on the same page, that could contribute to their inability to connect. With that being said, the drops appear to be a pattern for Cincinnati’s first-round pick right now. Chase has dropped passes consistently during training camp, so much so both Taylor and Burrow have addressed questions regarding the play of the receiver.

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When asked if Chase’s drops could be attributed to the lack of reps with Allen, Taylor didn’t want to make an excuses.

“We expect our receivers to catch the ball … it’s as simple as that,” Taylor said following the game. “I don’t attribute it to any rhythm, the ball is coming at you, catch it.”

Burrow hasn’t dressed for a preseason game yet and Taylor has yet to announce if he will let his franchise quarterback see any game snaps before the Bengals’ home-opener. If Chase continues to drop passes when Burrow is starting at quarterback, then this will be a different story.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase had three drops Friday.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase had three drops Friday.

Bengals’ offseason investment on defensive line looks to be paying off

After finishing last in the NFL in sacks and No. 27 against the run, the Bengals prioritized their defensive line in free agency. The team signed defensive end Trey Hendrickson and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to complement Sam Hubbard and DJ Reader, who were both on the roster in 2020. Hubbard and Reader combined for four quarterback hits and a sack in the first quarter. Ogunjobi made a key play to stop the Washington Football Team’s fourth-and-1 from the 23-yard line. Hendrickson applied consistent pressure in the limited snaps he saw as well.

Cincinnati’s defensive line looks much improved and it’s a position room full of players who understand what it takes to win.

“I think we understand the potential we have in the group and we understand we have to bring it each and every day,” Ogunjobi said.

Bonus: Cornerback Jalen Davis and Darius Hodge continue to impress and are pushing for their spot on the Bengals’ 53-man roster. Wide receiver Trenton Irwin led the team in receiving yards with 24 yards on two catches. Irwin was Cincinnati’s leading receiver in the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first preseason game with three catches for 35 yards.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Ja'Marr Chase drops 3 passes in Cincinnati Bengals preseason game