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Ja’Marr Chase: NFL ball is harder to catch than NCAA ball, harder to see without white stripes

Mike Florio reveals the PFT Power Rankings heading into Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season and answers mailbag questions about his picks.

Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has an interesting excuse for the dropped passes that have plagued him in the preseason: He says he’s still adjusting to the change from the NFL football to the NCAA football.

The NFL and NCAA do not use the exact same specifications for their footballs, meaning the balls used in college football can be slightly smaller. The balls used in college football also have white stripes on either end, while NFL footballs have no stripes. Chase says that matters.

The ball is different because it is bigger,” Chase said, via “It doesn’t have the white stripes on the side so you can’t see the ball coming from the tip point so you actually have to look for the strings on the ball at the top, which is hard to see because whole ball is brown and you have the six strings that are white. But for the most part, just have to get used to it and find out what I am comfortable with catching.”

Of course, every single rookie has to make the exact same adjustment, and we haven’t heard any other rookies blame the footballs for dropped passes. Chase also said sitting out the 2020 season has him rusty, but he acknowledges that it’s on him to make the necessary adjustments.

“I don’t want to blame it on me sitting on my butt the whole year, but it probably had something to do with it, of course,” Chase said. “There’s a bigger ball adjustment, so I don’t want to make excuses but I’ve just got to be a pro and make the catch.”

If Chase plays as well as the Bengals expect him to, his preseason drops will soon be forgotten. But if the drops continue into the regular season, no one is going to accept the slight difference in the footballs as an excuse.