LSU products Odell Beckham, Ja’Marr Chase ready for Super Bowl stage

LOS ANGELES — Both offenses in Super Bowl LVI will feature wide receivers from LSU in the Rams’ Odell Beckham and Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase.

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Both have taken improbable paths to the NFL’s championship game, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

“It’s kind of still a little like surreal and, you know, mind blowing,” Beckham said. “Like, yeah, we really are here, and now the ultimate focus is one game. Just got to finish the job.”

Chase said, “Yeah, this is something that New Orleans people have been talking about, to be honest. It’s going to be an unbelievable experience. Seeing him play for the first time. I didn’t get to see him play when he was with the Browns. But I’m excited to watch him. It should be an exciting and fun game.”

The colorful and eccentric Beckham was on the football scrap heap after wearing out his welcome with the New York Giants and Cleveland. He was released Nov. 8 and cleared waivers. He was a free agent before he signed with the Rams.

Beckham took his time before picking his new team.

“When I was sitting there, Green Bay was heavy on my mind and my heart,” Beckham said. “There was Kansas City. There was the story of going back home (to New Orleans).”

All were very good options.

“Then when it got quiet, it was just something about this place that called,” Beckham said. “Aside from Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller, aside from getting calls from the guys in the receiver (meeting) room (and they were saying) like ‘Bro, what’s taking so long.’”

Beckham had known Rams coach Sean McVay for a while and took his calls, too.

“It just felt right in my heart,” Beckham said. “And it felt right in my gut. It felt like, other things I was trying to make work, this was the one that was calling me.”

The Rams were thin at wide receiver after Robert Woods went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. Beckham made his Rams’ debut against the 49ers on Nov. 15. He caught two passes for 18 yards.

“It just felt right in my heart. And it felt right in my gut. It felt like, other things I was trying to make work, this was the one that was calling me."

- receiver Odell Beckham, on why he decided to play for the Rams

He came up big with nine catches for 113 yards in the NFC title game against the 49ers to help balance the field away from the dynamic Cooper Kupp.

“When you have Odell come in, the plan wasn’t for him to have to learn this thing as quickly as he did,” Kupp said. “That was an awful situation where Robert Woods goes down, and you’re really in a spot where Odell is now in a very expedited process of trying to get him integrated into what we need to do.”

Beckham didn’t have the benefit of an offseason to learn new things in the Rams’ complicated offensive attack.

“He had to do a lot of this stuff mentally, just on his own learning on his own,” Kupp said. “Our play-calls, our formations, all this different stuff, all that nuance and detail that it takes to be good in this offense.”

Before long, Beckham was blending into the attack.

“As the season went by, I just had to knock off rust. Get myself back into football position shape. Just get my confidence back. It had been a whole year since I was out there making plays. So, I've been anxious and excited to do that for a whole year."

- Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase

“He’s just done an unbelievable job of that,” Kupp said. “For him to do what he is doing, to be producing the way he has been, speaks volumes to the player that he is, the teammate that he is. … It has been so impressive watching him work.”

Chase helped LSU win the college national championship after the 2019 season. He opted out of the 2020 season during the coronavirus pandemic but was still taken fifth overall in the NFL draft by the Bengals.

Chase, reunited with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, caught 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

“As the season went by, I just had to knock off rust,” Chase said. “Get myself back into football position shape. Just get my confidence back. It had been a whole year since I was out there making plays. So, I’ve been anxious and excited to do that for a whole year.”

Playing with Burrow again certainly helped Chase blast off in his first season.

“Who knows what the outcome would have been like playing with another quarterback?” Chase said. “So, you know it’s a whole different style. I had to adjust to a new offense. So, who knows what really would have happened, but probably would not have been this outcome.”

Their bond that helped the Tigers become one of the more prolific offenses in the history of college football in 2019 had not been broken by time.

“Me and Joe are really just on the same page when we see the coverage,” Chase said. “As a receiver sometime you’ve got to know what the quarterback is thinking. I’m happy to do that sometimes with Joe.

“Sometimes I may be guessing on the coverage, but he already knows what’s going on. So, I’m just trying to find the same page as the quarterback.”

Some of the locals in LA didn’t want Beckham. They thought he’d be a distraction and hurt the team’s chemistry.

Beckham was offered a platform to gloat about proving his naysayers wrong, but he punted.

“A younger me definitely would have, but I just feel like I’ve come so far,” Beckham said. “I really know who I am. I know myself. I know what I can bring. I know, you know all of the stories and all that. So, it’s tough to answer, but I don’t really take satisfaction because it’s not that deep for me because I know who I am.”