Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase caused a stir Friday when he sat down for an interview with NFL Network and said he told quarterback Joe Burrow that he didn’t want him playing in the season opener at Cleveland.
“I told him that, with all honesty, I don’t want him there,” Chase told Andrew Siciliano and Brian Baldinger. “I told him as long as you’re there after Week 5 on, we’re good, brother.”
“I told him, that with all honesty, I don’t want him there.” pic.twitter.com/0YbX8KHKTL
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 4, 2023
Why Does Ja’Marr Chase Want Joe Burrow To Take His Time Returning?
Following an off day Saturday, Chase told reporters after practice Sunday he meant every word.
“I 100 percent mean that. I just want him to be 100 percent healthy to play. I don’t want him rushing nothing. I don’t want people in his ear telling him to play at a certain time. I just want him to be healthy. That’s not me telling him to play certain games. That’s me saying, ‘Be healthy when you’re back — 100 percent healthy.’”
The timeline for Burrow to return from the calf strain he suffered on the second day of training camp remains clouded in ambiguity. Head coach Zac Taylor said the day after the injury that Burrow would be out several weeks and then declined to elaborate when asked to define “several.”
Taylor has repeated the same thing each time he’s been asked for an update in the 10 days since.
Burrow suffered the injury on July 27. The season opener in Cleveland is Sept. 10, or six weeks and three days after Burrow went down.
“We’ll be OK as long as he’s there for the end of the season,” Chase said. “We’re worried about the bigger picture, not the small picture here. That’s where we’re trying to win. As long as he comes in around the season that we need him, then we’re gonna be OK.”
Chase added a playful dig at the media.
“Y’all always blow stuff out of proportion; that’s why I gave y’all the answer,” he said.
As Chase mentioned in his NFL Network interview, he is speaking from experience when urging Burrow to make sure he is 100 percent before trying to return. Last year, when Chase fractured his hip, he was cleared to return after sitting out three games. But Chase said “no,” and insisted on sitting out the Week 12 game at Tennessee.
The Bengals won that game 20-16 to go 3-1 in Chase’s absence. He returned the following week at home against the Chiefs and caught seven passes for 97 yards.
“I gave myself an extra game to heal. I didn’t rush nothing,” Chase said. “I made sure I was ready to be back, even though I felt good the week before. I just told them I didn’t want to play. Just to get myself and my body the rest that it needs. You’ve got to be an athlete and be on top of stuff like that.”
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