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Ja’Marr Chase said Friday that he doesn’t want injured Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to rush back to play the season opener against the Cleveland Browns.
On Sunday the Bengals receiver was asked to clarify his comments. He doubled down.
“I 100% mean that,” Chase said. “I just want him to be 100% healthy to play. I don’t want him rushing nothing. I don’t want people in his ear telling him to play a certain time. I just want him to be healthy. That’s not me telling him to play this certain game. That’s me saying be healthy when you’re back — 100% healthy.”
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Here’s what Chase initially said Friday during an interview with NFL Network.
“I told him that with all honesty, I don’t want him there,” Chase said. … “As long as you’re there after Week 5 and on, we’re good, brother.”
Burrow was carted off the Bengals practice field on July 27 after sustaining a right leg injury. Head coach Zac Taylor confirmed a day later that Burrow had suffered a right calf strain that would sideline him for “several weeks.”
While not optimal, the revelation that Burrow didn’t suffer a long-term or season-ending injury like an Achilles tear was good, indeed, for Cincinnati. But the vague timeline has left Burrow’s status for the start of the regular season unclear.
If Burrow’s not 100% for Week 1, Chase doesn’t want to see his quarterback on the field. It’s a high threshold in a league where no player who’s gone through training camp is ever truly 100%. But Chase wants Burrow to get there.
Chase also doesn’t sound too concerned about what Burrow’s absence could mean for the Bengals in a league where regular season games matter considerably more than in any other major U.S. sport. One outcome can and usually does make the difference in home-field advantage, a first-round playoff bye or making the postseason to begin with.
“We’d be OK as long as he’s there for the end of the season,” Chase said Sunday. “We’re worried about the bigger picture, not the small picture here.”
The Bengals open their season on the road at Cleveland on Sept. 10.