Rams DB Gets Renewed Match With Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase

Derion Kendrick

Getty Derion Kendrick wraps up Brandon Aiyuk on September 17, 2023 in Inglewood.

Derion Kendrick has this rare claim on the Los Angeles Rams: The second-year cornerback played against Cincinnati Bengals stars Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase before the Rams beat both for the Super Bowl in the 2021 season.

That’s because the cornerback was on the same field facing both in the 2019 season national title game.

“I’ve been in that matchup,” Kendrick recalled with Heavy in thinking about both All-Pros on Friday, September 22. “It’s going to be a nice one. I’m blessed to be in this position to go against those types of guys and some of the best players in the league.”

Kendrick, then with Clemson, had a rather forgetful evening in losing 42-25 down in New Orleans. That game also snapped the Tigers’ 29-game winning streak. Kendrick eventually finished his career winning the national title with Georgia before getting drafted in 2022.

While he’s energized for the personal rematch with the two LSU stars for the first time since that national championship game, Kendrick is most excited for his team showcasing themselves in front of Monday Night Football on September 25.

“It gives us a chance to prove what we can do when we step onto the field,” Kendrick said.

Has Kendrick Shown More Growth?

Post Jalen Ramsey, it’s hard to say who’s emerged so far as the new CB1 for the Rams.

However, Kendrick has shown signs of handling that role.

Per Pro Football Focus, Kendrick surrendered just two catches for 13 yards in the 30-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. And that was on five targets his side.

And in Week 1, Kendrick took on the Seattle Seahawks’ contingent of breakout wide receivers. His afternoon ended with allowing two catches his side for only 11 yards.

He and the Rams secondary has gone against either a past 1,000-yard wideout or All-Pro in the first two weeks. Now comes Chase and fellow star WR Tee Higgins. But as Kendrick says, this Rams DB unit plays with a “something to prove” attitude.

“It’s the same as every week. We’re always going to go out there and play our best game. We always have something to prove week in and week out,” Kendrick said. “Leading up to this year, we’re getting more comfortable.”

As it is, facing the Seahawks’ and 49ers’ deep group has made the Rams more hardened but positive in taking on new wideout challenges.

“Most of the time, it gives us confidence to know that we can play against anybody,” Kendrick said of facing different deep receiving units.

Now, he gets his chance to rewrite his own new outcome in his personal rematch with Burrow/Chase.

Fellow Rams DB Sounds Off on Upcoming Matchup

The younger Rams secondary has held their own in the first two games. Now, the Bengals’ offense presents a new challenge — and one capable of being the most explosive.

But Decobie Durant is another who is embracing the upcoming matchup.

“They have a great receiving core top to bottom,” Durant said. “It’s a great opportunity for me and my teammates to go out there and line up against those guys and show them what we have.”

Durant was last season’s top Rams ballhawk even with Ramsey in the lineup. Now, he’s the one taking Ramsey’s “star” defender role.

“I’ve seen a lot more growth, being that I’m in the star position now. It’s a new position for me,” Durant said. “A lot of things to learn through. But just having this chip on my shoulder, it’s an opportunity for me to showcase my skills across the league.”

Now, he gets to join Kendrick in showcasing their growth against their next big challenge in Burrow, Chase, Higgins and company. Durant is aware that this younger secondary would get tested out the gate. But it’s given them a chance to play with patience and confidence.

“It’s still room for improvement. Each and every week it’s going to be a battle because we face some good receivers each week, especially with the schedule we have. We’re just going to keep stacking these blocks. And we’re going to control what we control,” Durant said.

Read More