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Sunday's Hot Spots: Ja'Marr In Reach Of Bengals, NFL Milestones; O-Line Makes It Comfortable For Joe Burrow As It Eyes Seattle Rush; Higgins, Awuzie Game-Time Calls

C Ted Karras holds the ball during the Bengals-Cardinals game in Week 5 of the 2023 season.
C Ted Karras holds the ball during the Bengals-Cardinals game in Week 5 of the 2023 season.

Informed the NFL record for most catches in consecutive games is 29, Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is intrigued, but not counting on, breaking it Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) against Seattle at Paycor Stadium.

After catching a Bengals-record 15 in Arizona, Chase would need to match it to break Jets running back Clark Gaines' record set in a 1980 season he caught just 36 balls all year.

"I'm not saying it's not going to happen, but it's possible," Chase said.

Elias says he also tied T.J. Houshmandzadeh's Bengals' record for two straight games with 22. Houshmandzadeh did it twice, in 2004 and then again in 2007, when his 112 catches tied Wes Welker for the NFL lead.

One number Chase should get in his 34th career game is 23 yards, which would make him the fifth player in NFL history to reach 3,000 career receiving yards in 35 or fewer games. He'd also become the 18th Bengal to have 3,000 yards. This season he's already passed wide receiver Pete Warick, tight end Jermaine Gresham, and running back Giovani Bernard on the all-time list while running back James Brooks waits with 3,012.

O-LINE TAKE: No matter what records go by the wayside Sunday, if the Bengals are going to win they'll have to get a yeoman effort by an offensive line that has pleased the only people it has to.

The coaches.

For instance, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan remembers what it felt like going into games two years ago.

"And even in the (2022) playoffs we had guys that weren't used to playing. It just feels different," Callahan said. "It's just everything about it feels much more solid and nailed down upfront for us as a coach. That's how I feel.

"I think pass pro is markedly improved against some good fronts. I think they're doing the job that we want them to do. I'd like to give up maybe one less sack a game … In the run game, we've been good. We can be better, we can get more out of the run game than we've gotten. But I've been pleased with the performance."

Even with quarterback Joe Burrow's mobility issues, the Bengals are eighth-best in the league when it comes to allowing sacks per pass. And Burrow has thrown the third most passes in the league.

Now Burrow faces a Seattle defense coming off an 11-sack game against the Giants two weeks ago. Known for their physical play and stunting games up front, anybody can run free and has. Four different players had two sacks each against New York. The Bengals are saying communication up front is the key.

"There have been a couple of breakdowns, but the volume in which we pass the ball, we're doing a decent job," said center Ted Karras. "It's important for us to get our sets right, and be in the right position to make Nine comfortable. When he's comfortable, we can all see what happens."

Nine is Burrow, of course, and last Sunday did Karras' heart good.

"I was really happy to see him get that off his back," Karras said of Burrow regaining his old form and mobility last week. "FedEx Air Player of the Week and we go out there and score 34 points like we should every week. It just felt good to go out there and do it because we hadn't done it and we need to keep doing it."

If anyone knows what that mobility means, Karras was reminded last Sunday.

"The No. 1 thing it showed, when he scrambles out there and picks up a first down, that's big for us," Karras said. "It's a big part of his game. I know it's not the main part of his game, but he's always been dangerous with his legs and picks up a couple of first downs a game."

DR. LOU ON TACKLING: Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo oversaw a drastic improvement in tackling last season. According to Pro Football Reference, the Bengals had just 69 missed tackles, nearly 40 fewer than their 2021 output of 108 that was fifth most in the league. This year the Bengals are on pace to miss 95 and Anarumo is trying to tighten it up.

But he's not panicking. He's going to keep using the same drills and he puts tackling in the same category as everything else in improving the defense.


"I think it's just being more on our details of things," Anarumo said. "I mean, all of a sudden it's one or two things. So I just think it's more consistency across the board and we're working towards it. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing and keep practicing tackling because that's again showed up. But that's all we can do is keep working at it."

ELITE LBs: Linebacker Bobby Wagner is 33 and on his second stint with Seattle in his 12th NFL season. But he's still got a Hall of Fame game. A six-time first-team All Pro, he's got 13 career interceptions, the most for all linebackers since he came into the league in 2012 but the retired Luke Kuechly.

The Bengals have a pair of elite backers. They may not be first-team All-Pros yet, but maybe they should.

Germaine Pratt appears to be in a class with only 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker Fred Warner this season as the only defensive players with at least one interception, a forced fumble, and a sack. With two interceptions, Logan Wilson leads all backers with nine interceptions in the 2020s.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor came into the NFL in 2012, the same year Wagner did.

"The same qualities that you talked about with him, you would see with Logan and Germaine (would be) the way that they communicate,' Taylor said. "The way that they study, the way they talked about it off the field in the locker room. You know, their ability to kind of see tendencies and get a jump-start on a play."

GAME TIME: Wide receiver Tee Higgins had a full practice Friday for the first time since broke his rib in Tennessee Oct 1. With the bye week approaching, Taylor said an argument could be made both ways. If he plays, he'll have two weeks before the next game in San Francisco on Oct. 29 to recover. If he doesn't play, he'll almost certainly be ready for the 49ers with four weeks out of action.

Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (back) went limited and Taylor said he's in the same category as Higgins. He wants to give them 48 hours to see how they wake up Sunday.

Defensive tackle Josh Tupou (toe) didn't go Friday after going full all week and is questionable. Special teams ace Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee) was declared out of his third straight game. Taylor said he was week-to-week, which means he could go in 'Frisco.