Ja’Marr Chase Talks Studying “Patient” Denzel Ward
Cincinnati Bengals star wideout Ja’Marr Chase vs. Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward will be tremendously entertaining for many years to come.
Chase is coming off a dazzling rookie year in which he racked up 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. Chase was instrumental in helping the Bengals reach their first Super Bowl in 33 years, where they ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Rams.
Chase vs. Ward will especially be can’t-miss television because for the first time since the late 1980s, both the Browns and Bengals have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations heading into 2022.
Mobile and online sports betting is expected to launch in The Buckeye State by Jan. 1, 2023, and if it goes live, the FanDuel Ohio sportsbook will likely offer new customers risk-free bets in up to $1,000. The Browns have +2000 odds to win next year’s Super Bowl at FanDuel, and the Bengals are listed at +2200.
There aren’t many NFL corners who are capable of limiting Chase’s production in man-to-man coverage, but Ward has certainly been up to the challenge. So much so that Ward influenced a change in Chase’s film study habits.
“The first main person I really started to study was that freakin’ cat from the Browns, (Denzel) Ward,” Chase said, according to Jay Morrison of The Athletic. I like his game a lot. He’s so good and so patient. He doesn’t get beat often, and when he does, he gets beat with his eyes. He is really patient, and that’s one of those tendencies that doesn’t really show on film, so you have to watch his tape real, real close to find out everything you can on him. He’s the one guy I watched a lot of films on after the first meeting.”
In Week 9 of last season, Ward intercepted Burrow’s end zone throw to Chase and took it 99 yards for six. The Browns went on to crush their inner-state rivals 41-16, as Chase was limited to six catches for 49 yards and zero scores.
The Bengals and Browns will first meet in “The Land” on Halloween Day in Week 8 on ESPN Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m. EST). Their second meeting will take place in Cincinnati in Week 14 (Dec. 11 at 1:00 p.m. EST).
Former Bengals Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick Retires
Veteran journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has retired after a unique 17-year career, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Fitzpatrick, who turns 40 in November, played for nine teams throughout his 17 seasons. His career started with the St. Louis Rams, who drafted “Fitzmagic” 250th overall back in 2005.
The Bengals acquired the Harvard product via trade with the Rams two years later. He started 12 games over the 2007 and ‘08 seasons with Cincinnati, going 4-7-1 with 1,905 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
The Washington Football Team (now Commanders) signed Fitzpatrick last offseason to compete for the starting QB position. Fitzpatrick was coming off a stellar season with the Miami Dolphins in which he won four of seven starts and tossed eight touchdowns against three picks.
Unfortunately, he suffered a hip subluxation in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers and had to miss the remainder of the year. Taylor Heinicke finished the year as Washington’s main starter.
Aside from the Rams, Bengals, Dolphins, and Commanders, Fitzpatrick also played for the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His best season was with the Jets in 2015, where Fitzpatrick won 10 of 16 starts and threw 3,905 passing yards with 31 touchdowns against 15 picks.
Fitzpatrick finished his career with 34,990 passing yards, 223 touchdowns, and 169 interceptions.
Hayden Hurst Comments On Decision To Join Bengals
The Bengals signed veteran tight end Hayden Hurst to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million in free agency, giving Joe Burrow yet another playmaking weapon in the passing game.
Hurst slots in as the new lead tight end following the departure of C.J. Uzomah, who signed with the New York Jets in free agency. He joins a pass-catching group that includes young stars Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins and veteran Tyler Boyd.
Hurst is barely over two months into his tenure with the Bengals, but the soon-to-be 29-year-old already feels great about the decision to sign with the reigning AFC Champions.
“I made the right choice,” Hurst told reporters on Tuesday. “We all know what 9 (Burrow) is capable of. He’s incredible. He’s a professional.”
The No. 25 selection of the 2018 draft played two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens before getting traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Hurst had a productive year in 2020, recording 88 catches for 571 yards and six touchdowns.
But the arrival of rising star tight end Kyle Pitts meant fewer targets for Hurst in 2021. The latter finished the year with 26 catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns.
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