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From Tom Brady To Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase Finds Motivation


If Joe Burrow is Joe Cool, then Ja'Marr Chase must be Jetting Ja'Marr because he glides from one goal and one motivation with an effortless intensity. 

"I'm more motivated than last year. Hundred percent," Chase says. 

It will be recalled before he had the most prolific season a rookie wide receiver ever had in the NFL last year, Chase had one of the more tumultuous training camps a Bengals' first-round draft pick ever had. 

Before he went on to catch a rookie record 1,455 yards, he ended the preseason with four straight third-down drops. Before he stunned the Chiefs with a rookie record 266 yards the day after New Year's, he went into Labor Day with some brutal practice drops that still chafe. 

"That motivated me the whole season. I think I'm more motivated than last year. Especially stuff I went through coming into the season," Chase said before Wednesday's first practice of training camp, light years from last year. 

"The overreaction. It's going to happen. I have no control over it. Just try to be myself and to keep going forward." 

More motivated?

"Hundred percent," Chase said. "Because I'm not trying to be seen like that ever again. I don't know where that came from." 

He has an idea. After winning the national title with Joe Burrow, he took off 2020 before the Bengals took him with the fifth pick and reunited LSU's record-breakers. 

"I was off the whole year, so I'm already in rhythm with stuff going on," Chase said. "I feel much better." 

Now Burrow isn't here for probably about two weeks because of an appendectomy and Chase isn't sure how that's going to impact what seems to be their almost supernatural connection. 

"It didn't work right away," Chase said. "It will take time." 

But he never seems to take time off when it comes to finding motivation. Like last week, when Madden 23 came out with its ratings that seemed to include all players but those playing south of Columbus and north of Lexington. Somehow, the game had Chase ranked 18th among receivers and he fired out an "Extra Motivation," tweet.  

It also fired up Chase that Tom Brady noticed. 

"Don't sweat it man," Brady tweeted. "Madden didn't even put me in the game my second year." 

"That was kind of cool that he did that," Chase said. "He's one of the best to ever do it. He definitely got motivated after that, so it definitely motivated me." 

It's not like Madden crushed any childhood dreams. He says he never played it. 

"No, not at all," Chase said. "I don't play any sports outside of football. Too much football in my mind already." 

What was on his mind in the offseason was getting back to his roots. 

"I switched it up a little bit working out with a track trainer this offseason," said Chase, a high school track star back in New Orleans. "Making sure I got back in shape. I didn't work on the field as much as I wanted to, but I definitely made sure I got in shape. I don't want to come off the field. I just want to make sure I'm always in shape."

Check out the best pictures of Ja'Marr Chase throughout the 2021 Season.

He checked in at five pounds lighter than last year, but he wants to get back to 205 pounds. He can just look in the mirror. The same mirror he stuck on last season's goals. He says he hasn't taken them down and he hasn't written down his new ones yet. 

"I wouldn't tell you if I did," Chase said. 

The motivation stares at him from everywhere. He was just hanging out with his good buddy Justin Jefferson in Los Angeles. It always seems like Chase has been chasing him since their LSU days. Last year, Chase broke Jefferson's rookie record by 55 yards. This year he's trying to break Jefferson's NFL record for most receiving yards in the first two seasons of a career. Of course, Jefferson's comment about gunning for 2,000 yards this season caught his eye. 

"I hope he doesn't get it before me. That's all I hope for," Chase said. "I definitely have a shot at it. A hundred percent. If I need to call him and make a bet, then it's done. Then I'll do it. 

"We like to out-compete each other and then talk trash with him online. That's the fun part of it." 

It looks like it's going to be a lot more fun than last camp. Now they're asking if MVP is on his list instead of Rookie of the Year. 

He won't say, but he knows. 

"I keep myself motivated. Have the guys around me push me," Chase said. "No one really knows what I'm capable of but me. It's all about surprising people."