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2021 NFL Draft

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What Zac Taylor, Ja'Marr Chase and Brian Callahan Said After Round One

LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase on the stage after being draft by the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2021 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 29, 2021 in Cleveland. (Ben Liebenberg via AP)
LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase on the stage after being draft by the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2021 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 29, 2021 in Cleveland. (Ben Liebenberg via AP)


Head coach

What made Ja'Marr Chase the right pick for the Bengals, and was it tough deciding between him and a player like Oregon OT Penei Sewell?

"There were a lot of great options, but we're fired up to have Ja'Marr Chase. The things that he's done, he's one of the best receivers I've evaluated in the draft. You can see the chemistry that he and Joe (Bengals QB Joe Burrow) had together in that 2019 season. He comes in and makes a difference. He adds to a great receiver room that we already have and gives us one more great playmaker to have. We're really fired up how (the pick) shook out."

Was one of the factors in drafting Ja'Marr the ability to put pressure on defenses when you go with three WRs, so that they can't slack or overload on perhaps one player?

"You're exactly right. You're able to put pressure on the defense, and we need to be more explosive. That's one of the things that we lacked these last two years, so adding a guy like Ja'Marr Chase when we already have TB (Tyler Boyd) and Tee Higgins. And then we've got good depth behind them as well. You look at some of the other playmakers we've got on offense, and we're really excited about the direction we're headed."

Did you receive any phone calls from other teams that made you consider trading out of the No. 5 spot, or were you pretty definitive about staying there?

"I just let Duke (Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin) handle all that stuff. Teams always call in for different things. But again, we're really excited about Ja'Marr, and we're really happy that he was there at No. 5. It was no-brainer for us to take him with the pick."

Going back to when you started the draft process in January, was it reasonable to expect Chase to be there at No. 5, or was it pretty surprising?

"It's hard for me to go back to January on what I thought my expectations would be. But we thought there was a good chance three quarterbacks, maybe even four quarterbacks — you never knew – would go in front of us, and that we would be able to get a player we were really excited about, because there were several of them there. But we were happy Ja'Marr was there with the fifth pick, and we chose him as quickly as we could."

Is there anyone Ja'Marr Chase compares to that maybe you've coached or seen up close?

"Not necessarily. I just look at the traits he has. He understands the ins and outs of playing receiver. He's got great route understanding and great scheme recognition. They're not 50/50 balls, when he's in there — he does such a phenomenal job of positioning his body and going up and making plays and finishing plays off. That's really one of the things – he's got speed and he's got great hands, but his ability to make that first man miss or break that first tackle to get additional yardage there is really exciting to watch when you turn on his tape from 2019."

You're always looking for high-character guys, and his high school coaches have talked about is his work ethic. How much of that was a factor in your decision to select him as well?

"Absolutely. He fits everything that we're about here in Cincinnati. That's one of the things you can get, and that's where Joe Burrow comes into play. You get a chance to talk about a guy's work ethic. And for Joe to talk about how much time they spent together — even in the spring just outside of football and working one-on-one, outside of team activities — tells you what you need to know about him and that he's going to fit right in with what we're doing as an offense and as a team."

How much did Joe Burrow campaign for Chase to be drafted? How much did their 2019 success play a role in this pick?

"That's not really Joe's style. I know that was reported out there, but that's not really how he goes about his business. I certainly went to him and asked him specific questions about some of the players he's played with, and you could certainly tell that he had a great fondness for Ja'Marr and he would be excited to play with him again if that was the direction we headed. But again, that's not really Joe's style to say, 'Hey, we need to be taking this guy.' That didn't happen at all."

Did the offensive line depth in this draft make it easier to take a wide receiver in Round 1?

"We feel like there are some guys available that can help us. We also feel like getting our quarterback healthy and getting Riley Reiff over there at right tackle, we can have some guys coming back that maybe weren't available to us all of last year. Again, there will be some players in this draft, and that will be a position we will continue to address. But we felt good about adding Ja'Marr with the fifth pick."

When considering some of the other guys available to you at that pick, was wanting a guy who could come in and make an immediate impact a deciding factor?

"I wouldn't say that. I think all the guys available to us would be able to come in and really impact the football team. Ja'Marr was just the right fit for us."

Joe Burrow posted video of himself throwing today. How are you feeling about his progress?

"Everything seems on pace. It's been encouraging so far. I haven't had a chance to see him throw yet – maybe you guys have seen more than I have – but everything's been positive, and he seems to be on track for how we thought about how everything would shake out."

Do you remember the first real conversation about Chase vs. Sewell in your draft room?

"I remember the first conversation we had about Ja'Marr Chase was watching Joe Burrow play in college last year and saying, 'Oh my goodness, we have this receiver also.' And we found out he wasn't available. He was too young. Me and (Bengals offensive coordinator) Brian Callahan just talked about, 'Man, what if you had that guy on your team? So for it to play out the way it did was exciting for us. I don't remember the first conversations in the draft room, but we've been meeting up there for months now and have extensive conversations and talk through every scenario. Again, Duke leads the charge there and does a phenomenal job of leaving no stone unturned and having every uncomfortable conversation that you've got to have to make sure we get to the result we're going to get to tonight. Hats off to Duke and his staff, and the work that they've done and the position they've put us in over the course of this process. It's been really impressive."

You now have several former LSU players on the roster who played together in the same offense in college that had success together. It's been said that their style of offense transitions well to the NFL. Did that play a factor in this pick?

"It does. They had a lot of pro-style concepts there. You can see a lot of things that we ask our guys to do that he's done on tape. You can, with Joe, see the timing with Ja'Marr, and obviously there's a little bit of new terminology and new wrinkles that will be new to him. But I see him coming right in and being very comfortable with the terminology, what we ask him to do and the quarterback, which is encouraging."

You opted not to sign a WR in free agency. Was the type of player you knew you could get at No. 5 a factor in that?

"No, we evaluated plenty of receivers, and we just felt we had some needs on defense we needed to address. We added Reilly (Reiff) on offense, so we felt good about where we were headed. Again, we've got a lot of confidence in guys like Auden Tate and Michael Thomas. And some of those guys that are behind them have played a good role for us and will continue to in the future."

You had the first overall pick last year, so there was a certainty of who you could take. That was not the case this year. Was there any anxiety in waiting for the fifth pick to come around?

"I think that's safe to say. When there's a player you really want, you want him to be there. Some of those 10-minute periods there in the two picks before us, you're intrigued to see what some of these teams are thinking, even if it doesn't affect us. There's a lot of conversation and speculation that occurred over the last couple of months, so it's fun to follow and it's interesting to see who those teams picked there."

Was there anything Burrow said about Chase that really resonated or was impactful in leading up to making this pick?

"I don't know that I needed a lot of convincing, necessarily. I just said, 'On a scale of 1-10, what would be your excitement level if we added Ja'Marr Chase?' And he said, '10.' That's a pretty good answer.

How many times have you watched Chase on film at LSU and thought, 'This is going to be our QB/WR connection here in Cincinnati?'

"10,000 times. I feel like I've seen the 2019 LSU season more than I've watched our own stuff, considering the amount of prospects they've had come through two years in a row now. Again, there is a lot of work to be done. This is the NFL. It isn't college, and he's going to have to walk in and really work to regain that chemistry with Joe and the rest of our offense. But at the same time, you can visualize what it's going to look like with Joe at quarterback."

Duke Tobin at one point said there was some trepidation on taking guys that didn't play last year. What did you see in the pre-draft workouts that made you feel good about what you were getting with Chase at pick No. 5?

"He handled the process very professionally. He went and worked. There were a couple guys you could see on the pro days you might question how they trained during the opt-out period. But I don't think anyone can look at Ja'Marr Chase's pro day, with the numbers he put up, and actually watch the workout — with Tanner Lee throwing the routes to him — and say, 'I don't think this guy (worked) at all over the opt-out period.' He obviously put his head down, went to work and attacked it professionally. He put himself in a great position to be here."

How much attention will you pay to the rest of the first round, and what are the chances we might see you pick again tonight?

"I don't think you ever take anything off the table, but certainly we've talked endlessly about players that could be taken at the end of the first round and guys that will be there in the second round. So we are very curious to see how it shakes out, because we've had weeks and weeks and weeks of conversation about these players. So we want to see how it shakes out."

How does Burrow benefit from this pick?

"There are certainly three receivers – and we're not even counting our tight ends and running backs, who can really challenge a defense. We really feel like those guys can win, and we expect them to win one-on-one situations. They all have a great football IQ, great ball skills, separation ability and big-play ability. It's an exciting group to trot out there on the field. I'm really excited about what it's going to look like."

It appeared Ja'Marr was wearing orange and black shoes. How did he react when you made the call?

"There was obviously some excitement there. He was in Cleveland with his family, and you could hear the cheers in the background. It's one of those experiences I don't take for granted being able to share with somebody. It's life-changing news. I could tell the excitement level. You could see whoever was behind him was really excited as well. It was a really cool experience."


Offensive Coordinator

How do you see Ja'Marr Chase fitting into your offense? Do you envision him in like an AJ Green-type of role?

"It's hard to sit here right now and say what his role will be come training camp, or the season for that matter. But yeah, he's going to fit that role. He's probably going to fit somewhere as an X receiver for us, which ultimately is just a letter. It doesn't mean a whole lot at this point. He's going to be one of the three receivers that will be on the field quite a bit. And so we'll find more about his skillset and how he translates to this level as he gets comfortable and learns the offense and gets his feet wet. So there will be plenty of places for him to play."

You've looked at a lot of receivers over the course of your career. If you look at the obvious assets that he has, was there something about him that may not have been widely known that you saw that really endeared you to him as that pick?

"You know, the thing you notice about him on tape is just his ability to go attack the ball — and then once he gets the ball in his hands, to go score. There's a mentality to that when guys do that on tape consistently. It's a way that they run when they have the ball in their hands, they're just always looking to score. That isn't a trait for every receiver, but he's got it. He's got the ability to make strong, contested catches. He's played against plenty of NFL corners in his career at LSU — guys that are playing right now that we get ready for every week. And he performed against all of them. I just think seeing that level of competition consistently, week in and week out, with his ability to go catch the ball in tight situations and contested catches, and then go score once he had it, was really impressive."

Was there one specific game that really jumped out to you? Or was there one piece of game tape that really blew you all away?

"No. Like Zac said, we watched so much of that team over the last two years now, with the amount of prospects they've had on offense. That Clemson game was a really impressive game he had. He played against an NFL corner, and I thought he was grabbed all over the place, but he still found ways to shake free and make huge plays in that game. I thought he probably could've gone for over 300 yards. He was a monster in that game on the biggest stage. That's always exciting to see a guy do that, and perform at that stage on that level against really two good players that Clemson had on the outside."

Zac said that this team needs to be more explosive on offense. How much was this pick made keeping in mind that you guys want to win and want to get this thing rolling in the right direction right away?

"I don't think there's anymore who wants to win more than me. I'm sure we're all in the same boat. We're hungry as can be to stack some wins together and give our fans and the people of Cincinnati something to be excited about to come cheer on Sundays. And really, it came down to him being the best player that we thought was available at that time. We really were excited that he was available. It gives us a chance to add some explosiveness to our team and to our offense. I'm excited to see him hopefully score a bunch of touchdowns for us."

There may have been a time when it was crazy and blasphemy to pass on a big offensive lineman in favor of a receiver. Is this pick more of an indication of just what today's game is — that you're maybe a little more lost if you don't have receivers that can win consistently, instead of old-fashioned power, protection and running the ball?

"I think what you see around the league is that it's hard to hold the ball. That's every team across the league. There's nobody that sits back and drops back and hangs onto the ball for a long time, because those guys on the other side are freak shows. With those defensive linemen and the blitz packages you see, life is hard for a lot of teams. And when you get a chance to get guys who can win on the outside — and we feel really good about the guys we have that can go win matchups and catch balls — it helps when they win fast. That's a big part of it. The teams that hold the ball for a long time are few and far between anymore. There used to be big seven-step drops and holding onto the ball. It's just too hard to do (now). The defensive linemen are too good. They present too many challenges. Now, teams have stables of two and three of them that are coming at you every week. And so guys that can go win outside are big advantages to offenses. You can dictate a little bit of a coverage structure too, and you have some big plays and some explosiveness. Now all of a sudden you get soft boxes for the run game, and all these things fit together. I think that when you have guys who can go win against these corners you have to face, the more of them that can win, the better. Just like I'm sure a bunch of defensive coordinators would sit down here and say, 'The more corners I have, the better off I'd be.' I think it's just an arms race to whoever can get the most explosive players."

Presented by Tide, the Bengals select Ja'Marr Chase with the 5th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Check out some of the top images of the Bengals first round selection from LSU.

What is his level of play like when he doesn't have the ball in his hands, and when he's not the primary target? Is he a guy that will block his tail off? Is he a guy who has good football acumen and does what he's supposed to do, when he's supposed to do it?

"Absolutely. He's a fantastic effort player with and without the ball. He's tough, he's hard-minded, and he's going to go in there. And he's strong. He is a really strong player, and you see that strength when he goes in there and puts his hands on people. We ask a lot of our receivers in the run game, and that'll be no different for him. We expect him to come in there and when it's asked of him, to go do it. Ultimately, his job is to come in here and go win on pass routes and catch touchdowns. But when he's asked to go in there and mix it up, he's going to mix it up."

What did you learn from Tee Higgins' success last year about rookie receivers translating right away. Is there anything you can apply to Chase?

"These guys have pretty good backgrounds in the pass game. The route trees they are asked to run — they're not necessarily exactly what we do in the NFL, but there is just so much familiarity in the passing schemes and how to run routes. I think I've said before that there's so much of it that happens at an early age for these guys where they get a chance to play in these seven-on-seven camps, and everyone throws the ball nowadays in high school. I mean, I ran the 'veer option' when I was in high school, and that wasn't that long ago. So these guys get this exposure early on, and then they get a chance to play against good players, especially talking about guys in the SEC that are all coming onto NFL rosters. And so seeing Tee do it, and guys like Justin Jefferson come in and play well, I think it's more of a testament to what football has become at the lower levels and how much more ready they are now to play in the NFL than they would have been maybe 10 years ago."

What was the mood like for the 10 minutes the Atlanta Falcons were on the clock?

"There's probably some tension. Not tension, but it's just kind of — you're waiting. You're anxious a little bit to see what they do and see what their mentality was going to be. Were they going to take a quarterback or trade out, and what would change all of the options in front of us? And what if they take the guy you want? That's always part of the equation when you don't control what is happening in front of you. And so you just sort of wait and see how it shakes out. We felt pretty good about what we thought might happen, and it kind of went the way we thought it would. That's always nice, but it doesn't always go that way. You just hold your breath for a few minutes and hope it goes the way you think it's going to."

There was a lot of chatter during the pre-draft process about the team's need to get more explosive plays and hit on deep balls. How much of that was taken into consideration when you drafted Chase? Is it as simple as drafting Chase kind of unlocks your offense?

"No, I don't think it's ever that simple. He still has to come in and earn his way, just like all young players do. There are things he is going to have to get better at as he discovers where his deficiencies might be. In the pro game versus college, there's always a learning curve. But I do think his explosiveness and ability to make plays down the field is clearly one of the things we lacked, so he fit that. A guy that can go run and score with the ball and go make plays down the field, go win one-on-ones in the open field and down the field. Those are kind of two different things, and he demonstrated all of those things on tape. When you can find a guy who can do those things, and you need that in your offense, that's a nice fit."

After you drafted Burrow, you incorporated some LSU's offense into your own offense. Do you expect Chase to have a pretty quick transition?

"Yeah, I expect a really quick transition. They did a good job there at LSU in their passing game. A lot of it is a derivative of the New Orleans Saints' system. It's kind of 'West Coast' in nature, and some of the terminology was similar. They did a great job finding ways to get guys matched up and give them chances to succeed. So I think there will probably be some learning curve verbiage-wise and learning a little bit of a new language. But at the end of the day, everything that we'll ask him to do, he has demonstrated on tape in big spots. So I don't think there will be much of a learning curve as far as overall scheme. It will take him — just like all young players — a minute to adjust to some of the volume and just the details and the minutia of new verbiage and new terminology."

As great as Ja'Marr is and as excited as you are to have him, you are the son of Bill Callahan, who is considered one of the greatest offensive line coaches of all time. So was it hard to pass on Oregon OT Penei Sewell?

"There were really good players at the top of the draft. You go through this process, and you have all kinds of conversations about where you see him fall and where you see the rank. You get to the point where you get to draft night, you've done all the homework, had all the conversations and stack the board the way you see it. You just kind of stay true to those things. The guys that are going to be taken on the offensive line in this first round are going to be really good players, but it was ultimately that Ja'Marr Chase was the best player for us in the draft."

When you think about the leadership qualities of Joe Burrow and his knowledge of Ja'Marr Chase, you have to feel good about it. There's probably going to be phone calls starting tomorrow with Burrow starting to get him comfortable with what's going to happen here. How appreciative are you of his leadership the ability to do those kinds of things?

"Joe's leadership is what sets him apart at the end of the day from a lot of players in this league. I would expect that Joe was probably on the phone the minute he found out that he was going to be the pick, and I'm sure they've already had a conversation about a lot of things, and they'll continue to have those conversations. That's what makes Joe so special. It's not just with Ja'Marr. He does that with all of our guys, and he's in constant communication with all of the players on the roster throughout the offseason. And him being here has been good for everybody too, because he's been rehabbing. It's one of the things that makes him unique and very special, and certainly it's going to help bring Ja'Marr along at a rapid rate once he gets his feet wet here in the coming days."


Wide receiver, Louisiana State

Describe the feeling when you got the call, and who called you?

"It was an amazing feeling getting that call. I couldn't really believe it. I was wondering who was calling me and I saw the Ohio area code and thought, 'this is it.' Coach Taylor called me and told me they're drafting me."

How does it feel to be reunited with Joe Burrow?

"It feels good. We have to get back on schedule, work hard and make some plays."

How are you representing your hometown in your jacket?

"My jacket is my biggest support system. All of my friends and family that have been watching and staying with me. I just wanted to show my love and support like they've been doing. It's me giving that love back like they've been (giving) to me."

Were the orange and black shoes planned? Any thought process?

"It's crazy, the shoes were a last-minute pick. I like how they looked in my suit, so I stayed with it. I had to get an orange handkerchief to make sure it looked correct."

Do you feel like you two can be even more dangerous than you were at LSU?

"Definitely. There's always room to grow. It's another chance for me and Joe to grow. I can learn more about the game, and Joe taught me some stuff when I was at LSU. This will be easy."

Did Joe call you yet?

"I don't know, my phone has been ringing in my pocket the last 10 minutes. I haven't taken it out yet, but I hope he called."

How much have you and Joe talked about this?

"We talked about it three or four times. He texted me this morning, 'get your bags packed.' I don't know if that was a hint or not, but when I saw that text I said, 'OK, I'm ready.'"

You kept a list on your mirror of goals? What were some? Was being the fifth pick one of them?

"The fifth pick was not. I just wanted to be drafted. That was the biggest happiness I had all night — being drafted. Everything else fell into place."

Was the plan to be a national champion?

"My goals on my mirror were 10 touchdowns, 1500 yards, 100 yards a game. I actually have the Biletnikoff Award on top of my award. I knew I had a chance of winning it when the season started."

How tough was the decision to opt out last year?

"It was tough. The decision looked easy from the outside. But from the inside, everything was going crazy. It was a long process, waiting that whole time, waiting on my family and friends to make sure they were still supporting me. I just had a blessed moment to actually opt out and make it this far."

Any goals for the pro career?

"I have some. I want to win rookie of the year. I want to have 10 touchdowns and at least 1500 yards for the year minimum."

You played a pro-style offense in 2019. Does being part of that make your transition to the NFL easier?

"Definitely, just by how I handled myself at LSU with Joe Brady, Coach (Ed) Orgeron and Mickey (Joseph). Those guys made me into the man and football player I am today. Me going to the Bengals is going back to a lot of the old plays. It shouldn't be anything too new to me."

What did you like about playing with Joe?

"Me and Joe built the relationship in the summertime before my sophomore year. I like the way he handles himself. He's always calm and collected. He's also not afraid to tell me something. That's something I love; we're always talking and on the same page, communicating about the defenses. I'm always willing to learn and have an open ear when Joe's talking to me."

What's it like to have that relationship already built in?

"I think it's a big thing. This is something not a lot of people have a chance to do. I think that's something that's going to be great. We might have a tremendous start. We'll see what Week 1 brings us."

Was there any wide receiver you patterned your game after?

"When I was growing up, I was always watching Dez Bryant. Once I got older, I started watching Stefon Diggs and how he moved and shifted his body in different ways. He always stopped on a dime. For now, I try to take as many pieces as possible from different players and add them into my own skill set."

How has your game improved over the past 16 months?

"My game will make a tremendous jump. I just don't know where. When I get back to practicing and back to feeling like myself, I know I'll have a great season."

Did you watch the Bengals more closely, and what did you learn?

"I did watch them once. They ran a few LSU plays, which is a good thing. I'll always follow Joe because he's a buddy of mine. I was always cheering him on like the rest of the LSU guys."

Do you have a best memory with Joe?

"The Ole Miss game, when I put on some icy-hot. It was pretty cold that game. I put some stuff on my arms, and Joe didn't like it. He told me to take it off — it was making the ball too slippery. That was a funny moment because I wasn't expecting him to go off on me like that."

What is your best trait at the wide receiver position?

"My best trait is my high point. It's why I'm the best receiver in the draft. I have strong hands — that's the high point again. My releases are getting cleaner, my routes are very good, I can get a defender off me. Looking at the film will show you how my routes are."

Can you describe the summer of 10,000 catches?

"It was a great move for me. It made me realize how much I need to catch the ball more and keep the same routine. It's now my job, so that's all that I have to do. That might start again this summer. It was a good jump for me."

Who shared that moment with you?

"My brother Terrell (spelling?), my mom, my dad, my cousin Jada (spelling?). Mickey Joseph was there, Coach (Ed) Orgeron, my agents, and that was it. I couldn't ask for a better support system than the guys that were in the room tonight."

Have you talked with Joe about the timetable with his injury?

"I'll see where he is with his injury. We'll get a session in as soon as we can. Health is the biggest thing in the NFL. If he can get his health right first, he can get back to me after that."

Did you have a pecking order in your mind about where you wanted to go?

"I didn't care where I went. It's just a blessing to be here. I wanted to just get drafted by anyone. It's a blessing to say I got as high a pick as fifth. That's a high pick. That's higher than Jamaal Adams — I'm going home to my friends and laugh about this. It still doesn't feel real at the moment, so I'm just going to enjoy it and soak it all in."

What did Joe have to tell you about the organization?

"Joe didn't tell me much yet. We talked about ourselves, making sure we're on the same page. He was recruiting me on the low, telling me, 'we're getting you.' Those were the types of conversations we were having."

What was your reaction when he was recruiting you?

"I actually was believing him sometimes. Sometimes I wasn't. I believed him this morning when he told me to pack my bags. I thought, 'he might really be calling this.' That's when I took his word."

What's the strongest thing you've ever done?

"I hand-cleaned 395 one time. That was end of my freshman year. I got a video of it. I haven't really been lifting too heavy anymore."

What are you impressions of Zac Taylor?

"He called me earlier, telling me how excited he is. He was talking about building that chemistry back up with Joe. I'm ready. I can't wait to throw on a shirt."

Were you able to sleep the last couple of nights?

"I actually have been calm this whole time. I slept like a baby last night. I was tired. The Ohio and New Orleans time zones are different. I definitely crashed when I got in last night."

You'll sleep well tonight ...

"I definitely will."

Do you want to wear #1?

"That's the plan. That's my goal. That's what I want to do."

Have you been to Ohio? Or remember watching the Bengals?

"I have never been to Ohio. This is my first time. I can't wait to see what's in store. I'm just going to soak it in.

Looks like they're trying to bring the 2019 LSU team back together with Thaddeus Moss?

"I do see that, and I dig it. I like it. I can't wait to talk to Thad. He texted me during the draft. I can't wait to go back and have a chat with those guys."

How tough was sitting out this year? Can you convince teams that it was the right thing to do?

"It was actually a task for me. It was my first time ever sitting out football. I started football late, around nine years old. That was the first time sitting out ever. It was difficult for me at first. I thought about opting back in at first. For the most part, it was a great way to build yourself up and find who you are. I got to recognize myself and have more control of my mind. It was a better way for me to become a man."

Any thoughts on following in Bengals' receivers legacy?

"I'm going to break every record they have. That's my goal, and I'm telling you right now. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but it's going to get done."

You have a unique dance. Will you bring it to Cincy?

"The Gritty is something we took big. Me, Justin Jefferson, and this guy named Gritty from New Orleans. It really took off. I'm glad its on video games; it's pretty cool. It's amazing watching stuff like that happen in front of our eyes."

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan envisions you as an X receiver, the same spot A.J. Green played. Do you echo him?

"Definitely. I'm playing inside and outside. It won't matter. I'll do everything I can on the field to make plays."

Where did you make most of your plays in the 2019 season?

"The majority of my explosive plays came on the outside. I had three routes from the inside that I scored on that were long yards. But the majority came from the outside."

How quickly do you want to hear Neck at Paul Brown Stadium?

"That's funny! I wouldn't mind hearing it. That would be pretty cool. I'll probably start laughing like I just did if I heard it. It's been a while since I last heard it, so I wouldn't mind hearing it again."

What's the coldest weather you've ever played in? Is that something you've thought about?

"The coldest game I played in was Arkansas my freshman year. I put on sleeves that game to make it less cold. I'm going to be prepared for it. The only thing I haven't played in is snow, so I'm pretty sure I'll get that soon. I'll try to be prepared — the most prepared I've ever been. I'm looking forward to it."

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