It now feels like a lifetime away when the critics were jumping on Ja’Marr Chase around this time last year. Then an incoming rookie that hadn’t had his first taste of NFL action, the Cincinnati Bengals’ fifth overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft had a handful of high-profile drops during camp last season. This led to some questioning Chase’s ability and whether or not he really deserved to be scooped up that high in the draft.

Boy, did the critics miss the mark on that one. Chase’s historic rookie campaign is a clear testament to this fact.

Now that the Bengals’ preseason preparations are in full swing, head coach Zac Taylor is no longer listening to the outside noise (h/t Jeremy Fowler of ESPN):

“The fans and media can ride the roller coaster of the daily activity of training camp,” Taylor said. “We don’t do that.”

As a matter of fact, Taylor revealed that they didn’t let the outside noise affect them during last year’s camp. They knew what they had in Chase, and a few dropped balls weren’t enough to convince them otherwise. Not even close.

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What mattered to Taylor was the work ethic the youngster exhibited early on. Right there and then, the 34-year-old shot-caller knew that they indeed had something special in Ja’Marr Chase:

“He was working behind the scenes like a 10-year vet,” Taylor said. “Came in early, attentive in meetings, doing a great job. So maybe frustrating practices on his end. We didn’t react like everybody else did because we knew he was coming.”

Now entering Year 2, the sky’s the limit for Chase and the Bengals.