Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase thought he was getting called on the carpet when head coach Zac Taylor summoned him to his office this Monday after the loss in Tennessee.
The always blunt and available Chase has been having a tough time with the media lately when it comes to getting his words blown up out of context and after Sunday's game his comment, "I'm always bleeping open," was taken as criticism of quarterback Joe Burrow and the offense. When someone brought it to Taylor's attention, he asked to see more than the eight-second profanity portion and watched the whole post-game gathering at Chase's locker.
When Taylor was able to put it into context, he thought Chase had professionally handled his frustration well.
So when Chase walked into his office, he said Taylor told him, "Great bleeping interview."
"And Zac never uses curse words," said Chase after Thursday's practice. "I thought I was in deep bleep, I'm not going to lie. When he told me … I had this shocked look on my face. It was just relief off my shoulders. I was thinking I was here bashing my teammates and the media is trying to bash me. It was just Zac lifting me up and making sure we're on the same page and him being a good head coach.
"That just shows the confidence he has in me. That's like me being confident saying I'm always open."
After attracting huge headlines for saying he thought the Bengals needed to throw more deep balls as well for his light trash talking about the Browns' elf logo, Chase says he's putting his maturity to use.
"I would say I'm humble, but I can still talk and not go too far with it. You go too far with talking trash and you're just talking," Chase said. "I'm trying to watch what I say lately because whatever I say blows up."
KWAMIE GOING HOME? Kwamie Lassiter II's dad is one of the most popular players in Arizona Cardinals history, so if Lassiter does indeed get elevated from the practice squad for Sunday's game in Arizona's State Farm Stadium (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati's FOX 19), what a moment.
Even still, he could end up making the trip even if he's not active.
"Whenever I go back," Lassiter said Thursday, "there are still some fans wearing his jersey (No. 42)."
Lassiter's dad played safety for eight seasons with the Cards from 1995-02 and became a franchise icon with four interceptions in the 1998 finale that lifted Arizona into the playoffs. When he died suddenly at age 49 in 2019, his son was playing at his alma mater of Kansas.
"The stadium opened in something like 2006, so I don't really remember going there," Lassiter II said. "I remember losing the state championship game in there in 2015 when I was a junior. That's the memory I have. It would be crazy to go back."
Lassiter doesn't know if he's playing, but he could with the Bengals looking like they'll be down two receivers. Wide receiver Tee Higgins (rib) didn't practice for the second straight day and rookie Charlie Jones (thumb) is on injured reserve. Lassiter, who signed undrafted out of Kansas last season, got elevated once last year and played in his only NFL game.
It's not that they don't think he can do it.
"Mr. Consistency. Always in the playbook. Always one of the first ones out and one of the last ones off the field," said wide receiver coach Troy Walters. "Smart guy, good route runner, can play all the positions. He's a valuable guy. Hard worker with good hands."
Lassiter shrugs. He hasn't heard much this week. "I'm just practicing like I'm going to play." But then, he always does. He was one of the last ones off the field Thursday after catching balls from new practice squad quarterback AJ McCarron.
"Either that or I'm catching off the Jugs," Lassiter said. "I'd rather catch with a passer, so I got a chance to throw with the new quarterback."
If he goes, No. 18 is looking for the 42 jerseys.
"I grew up a Cardinals fan, but I'm riding with the Bengals," Lassiter said.
SLANTS AND SCREENS: The Bengals could also need extra help at cornerback. It appeared No. 1 cornerback Chidobe Awuzie had a back issue in Thursday's practice and went limited. The other starting cornerback, Cam Taylor-Britt (concussion), returned from protocol and went limited …
It looks like they also won't have again linebacker and special teamer Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee) on Sunday after he didn't work …