Losing back-to-back games and seeing the franchise quarterback suffer a season-ending injury can take some oomph out of any team for a day or two, but the Cincinnati Bengals struggled to get their mojo back despite having a long weekend to process everything.
At least that’s how wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase saw it.
Chase said Thursday the energy wasn’t where it needed to be last week heading into a game against the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers, doing so while Jake Browning made his first NFL start.
Cincinnati Bengals Bring Back the Energy, But Where Was It?
“I wish I could answer that. I don’t know,” Chase said when asked why the energy level was different last week.
“Maybe somebody didn’t want to be at work that day. I don’t know,” Chase added. “Maybe we didn’t want to be in the cold.”
— Jay Morrison (@ByJayMorrison) December 1, 2023
Whatever it was, Chase said it is now behind them, as the team practiced at the indoor facility Friday with the practice fields soaked by rain overnight.
“Today we had everybody locking in on the offense we’re doing right now and making sure we was on the same page,” Chase said. “I think that’s the main key right now.”
There was one other new variable. Chase said he couldn’t speak for all of his teammates, but seeing Tee Higgins back to work in a full capacity certainly brought a jolt.
“I was a little happy the day he was back, so that was my energy right there,” Chase said. “That’s why I was so happy.
“No more bringing the whole defense to me and bringing the defense to him,” Chase added with a laugh. “Any time Tee get on the field with me, it’s a blessing.”
So how did Higgins look?
“He looked like Tee. Running fast, moving good,” Chase said.
The last time Higgins was on the field, he caught eight passes for 110 yards in a 24-18 win against Buffalo. That, of course, came with Joe Burrow throwing the passes, but Chase said he believes this offense can still move the ball and score points against any defense, starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday night.
“It’ll still show us that we have hope,” Chase said. “That’s what it really is about, gettin’ ourselves in the door for the playoffs. That’s the first thing on our mind right now. But the biggest thing we’ve got to understand is we’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
Frustrated after Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Steelers in Browning’s debut, Chase said afterward he “didn’t know how this is going to go.”
He was asked if he still feels the same after two practices this week.
“I just meant that like I didn’t know what the future is gonna hold,” he said. “I still don’t know. As long as we play hard to our heart and give all of our effort, that’s the biggest thing right now. Just make sure we still competing. Don’t get lackadaisical with this offense that we have.”
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