CINCINNATI, Ohio — Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase appears to be inching ever closer to an awaited return to the lineup.
The star wideout will begin working back in with the team this week and attempt to make it back into the lineup for the matchup against the Titans on Sunday. His hip injury has kept him out of three games in four weeks (with a bye mixed in), and despite the fact that the Bengals have gone 2-1 in his absence, they’re anxiously awaiting his return.
“I don’t want to make any predictions on that,” coach Zac Taylor said Monday. “But everything has gone according to plan so far and now it’s just a matter of getting him out there on the grass and seeing where he’s at. What’s his comfort level, what’s our comfort level and so that’ll truly be a day-to-day process really starting today, tomorrow, Wednesday to figure out how he factors in on Sunday.”
In seven games this season, he has been targeted 74 times and has 47 catches for 605 yards and six touchdowns.
The team felt his absence against the Browns on Monday Night Football, but was able to beat two lackluster teams in the Panthers and Steelers to get to 6-4 with a daunting homestretch looming. But that doesn’t mean Cincinnati is necessarily in a hurry to get him back.
“We’re never going to rush our guys into it,” Taylor said. “We want Ja’Marr to be a big part of this as the season wears on. We’ll just take it day-to-day and just have constant communication with him and Matt Summers and our whole medical staff and figure out what the process is. Everything has been positive up to this point as we hoped it would and now we just got to take it through this week.”
Chase was in the locker room, without crutches, on Monday, a positive sign toward his return which ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated was set to keep him out for 4-6 weeks. Monday was the four-week benchmark for the day after the team’s win over the Falcons, meaning that if the first reported timeline is indeed correct, he’s now in the window for his expected return.
The Bengals have played well in two of their three games without Chase in the lineup, but a return from their star wideout would give the offense the biggest boost it would get all season.
“I just think there’s a lot of confidence in the group overall that even we are missing a key piece that we can still keep it humming,” Taylor said. “It starts with our quarterback, number one, and the confidence we all have in him and starts with the protection in front of him. I think those guys are playing lights out right now. They did a great job yesterday and we have a lot of other weapons. We’ve got so much confidence in Tee, TB and Hayden, and Joe and Samaje, and all those guys and then the depth behind them that has stepped up.”
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