We don’t often get a look behind the scenes at what makes players like Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase great.
But when we do, it does nothing short of impress.
Pro Football Talk’s Peter King just gave us a look behind the proverbial curtain after a trip to Paul Brown Stadium to attend Bengals training camp practice.
According to King, Chase was the last guy on the field after practice on a 92-degree afternoon, to the point he asked team writer Geoff Hobson to play some defense as he caught more than 100 balls from a juggs machine at 40 miles-per-hour each. At one point, Chase even chased down and returned his one miss:
“One hundred twenty balls. Twenty minutes of footballs shot out of a cannon. Hobson fluttering the towel in his face, no words spoken. Once, Hobson succeeded, distracting Chase so the ball clanged off his hands. (“I can tell my grandchildren I broke up a pass intended for Ja’Marr Chase,” Hobson said later.) Chase stopped the drill, ambled 25 yards downfield, picked it up and tossed it back to the assistant helping Knollman feed the machine with ball after ball. Seemed an odd thing, Chase chasing the errant ball. Let that one go, I thought. Someone will pick it up later. “Ja’Marr’s different,” Knollman, the equipment guy, said. “If he misses one, he’ll go get it, and the ball gets thrown back to us. He’ll have to do it again. He has to be perfect. He has to catch every one.'”
Typically this drill features trainers waving towels in front of Chase or tugging on his from all angles to help him improve. What might not be typical in most NFL camps though, is one of the game’s best wideouts after an award-winning, if not historical debut, staying behind late to put that sort of work in during 90-plus degree weather.