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Thread: No longer playing catch up, Ross just catching passes as OTAs begin

  1. #1

    No longer playing catch up, Ross just catching passes as OTAs begin

    No longer playing catch up, Ross just catching passes as OTAs begin

    By Jay Morrison - Staff Writer

    Posted: 3:57 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    CINCINNATI —No one was more fired up for the first practice of OTAs than wide receiver John Ross after his rookie year was washed out by injuries, indecision and ineffectiveness.

    “It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Ross said after Tuesday’s practice in which he was a big part of the offense, catching a lot of
    passes from both starter Andy Dalton and backup Matt Barkley.

    “I felt really good out there on Day 1,” Ross added. “I’ve been feeling good all year. I wanted to have a good day today.”

    ›› Bengals have 90 of 91 players present for start of OTAs

    In addition to some longer passes down the field, Ross made a couple of difficult, contested catches along the sideline.

    “He had a bunch of good plays today, and he had a couple of stupid plays, so that’s what is going to happen,” said Bob Bicknell, who is in his first
    year as Bengals wide receivers coach. “I’m glad he does. I’d be upset if we weren’t doing some stupid things right now so you go in and coach it up.”

    The wide receivers coach at Baylor University last year, Bicknell said he’s been impressed with Ross since arriving in Cincinnati in January.

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    “Since I’ve been here I see a really special athlete, a kid that it’s really important to,” Bicknell said. “He learns pretty well. He’s going to make some
    mistakes as a young kid, but he’s got unbelievable speed and catches the ball really well. He’s got little things (to improve upon), like his eyes. I’m
    really excited about him and being able to work with him.”

    Ross fell behind from the start last year due not only to offseason labrum surgery that prevented him from practicing in the offseason program, but
    also the PAC-12 rule that prohibits rookies from even being present for OTAs.

    He said everything after that felt like he was playing catch up.

    “I couldn’t put a stamp on what was the problem because there were so many problems,” Ross said. “I was focused on something new every week.
    That’s when I realized it’s just not working for me. So I had a meeting with the coaches and trainers and focused on where I needed to be and what
    was best for me moving forward.”

    ›› 2 Bengals rookies share an inconceivable bond and inspiring coping method

    Ross said in addition to feeling more comfortable, he feels more confident.

    Head coach Marvin Lewis said he never worried about the part of the receiver’s personality.

    “John grew up in Long Beach, Calif., so I have no question about his confidence,” Lewis said. “I know where he went to school, I know where he grew
    up and I know the block he lived on. I don’t worry about John and his confidence. You have to be confident just to walk every day.”

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    What struck Lewis as the biggest difference between the 2017 Ross and the 2018 version is the bulk he added.

    “I think his upper body looks way different,” Lewis said. “I think he’s maturing as a man, and he’s developing as a man physically.

    “Last year he didn’t have any offseason of weight training whatsoever or virtually nothing or anything of substance so this was the first time over the
    last six weeks that he’s had an opportunity to do those kind of things.”

    ›› 5 undrafted Bengals most likely to make the roster

    Ross said his weight fluctuated between 188 and 185 last year, while this year he’s between 196 and 190 “depending on the week and the weather
    and what I eat.”

    “I’m a lot stronger,” he added. “I can do everything in the weight room. My legs have gotten stronger. I’m back lifting with everyone. I started college
    real small and wasn’t able to lift and then I got to lift and I felt better, I felt better as a player. Now I’m back to where I was when I was in college my
    senior year, as far as how physically ready I felt in college. I feel the same way now.

    “Last year I just honestly wasn’t physically and mentally ready for what I got myself into,” he continued. “Feeling the way I am now, it feels great. I feel
    better. I’m happy to be where I am.”

  2. #2
    Bengals' John Ross seeks redemption for rookie year gone awry

    May 29, 2018

    • Katherine TerrellESPN Staff Writer

    CINCINNATI -- John Ross played only 17 snaps for the Bengals last season, which was less than almost any offensive rookie drafted in 2017, let alone a top-10 pick.

    His last playing time came in a loss to the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 14, a stint that ended after only six snaps. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis chided
    him afterward for "letting his team down" when the wide receiver pulled up on a deep route, thinking the ball wasn’t coming his way.

    That pass from Andy Dalton did come his way. It sailed incomplete, which is the perfect word to describe Ross' rookie campaign.

    John Ross was all smiles on the field last week, in stark contrast to his rookie season. John Minchillo/Associated PressIt was a year of frustration,
    injuries and ultimately some soul-searching for Ross, who wasn't able to fully participate until late in last year's training camp while he recovered from offseason labrum surgery. A knee sprain and surgery to his other shoulder also contributed to derailing the speedster out of the University of

    “Last year, I was just down, not being able to run full speed, not being able to do everything in the weight room," Ross said. "Not to have excuses or
    anything, but I honestly just wasn’t physically or mentally ready for what I got myself into. There was so much going on."

    It was a humbling experience for Ross, who admitted there were times when he felt down or frustrated. But veteran wideouts A.J. Green and Brandon
    didn’t let him feel sorry for himself, often telling Ross to pick his head up if they ever saw it start to hang.

    “A.J. and Brandon LaFell [told me] that I’m going to be OK,” Ross recalled. “They all said they’ve been through something crazy in their years.
    Anything can happen. There’s guys who have barely played, like T.J. [Houshmandzadeh].”

    Ross’ favorite piece of advice came from former Bengals wide receiver Houshmandzadeh, who essentially told him that everything happens in its own

    Ross asked Houshmandzadeh if the two could work out together in California this offseason. That’s when the former Pro Bowler reminded the No. 9
    overall pick that his own rookie season wasn’t so spectacular, either.

    “I think the best advice I got this year [was] T.J. telling me how he started his career. His rookie year, he barely played, and look how he blossomed.
    So it can happen to anybody,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of players who have something going on. Everybody goes through adversity.”

    Everybody wants to know why Ross didn’t have a better rookie season.

    “I couldn’t put a stamp on what was the problem, because there were so many problems,” he said. “I was focused on something new every week. That’s
    what I realized, it’s just not working for me right now. So I had a meeting with coaches and trainers to focus on where I needed to be and what was
    best for me moving forward.”

    The problem certainly was never talent, which was evident from not only his college playing days but also his record-setting 4.22-second 40-yard dash
    at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. However, from the minute Ross put on a Bengals uniform, it was clear that speed and talent wouldn't
    automatically bring NFL success.

    He wasn’t given many chances to prove himself, and when he did get them, they ultimately ended in disappointment, whether it was a fumble against
    the Houston Texans or the botched route against the Titans.

    Ross didn’t even participate in organized team activities last year because he was finishing his degree at Washington. He wasn’t medically cleared
    from the offseason shoulder surgery until training camp already had opened, and by that time, it was a mad scramble to try to absorb an
    overwhelming amount of information with very little time to apply it.

    “The steps forward are going to have to come out here,” Lewis said, referring to the practice field. “There’s nothing he did otherwise that’s going to
    show anything different but just coming out here, getting comfortable and playing football. And making the adjustments and all the things he has to
    do as a receiver.”

    View image on Twitter

    Katherine Terrell


    I can confirm that John Ross practiced and caught passes today.

    7:04 PM - May 22, 2018

    The Bengals are counting on Ross to take a step forward this season. They finished last in total offense in 2017, in part because they didn't have another threat outside of Green. If Ross can get on the field, the threat of his speed alone would force opposing defenses to account for him and perhaps draw coverage away from Green.

    But right now, it's just step one. Ross' first career practice of OTAs, on May 22, could be considered fairly successful, as he flashed his speed in one-on-one drills and made several nice catches, including one in which he made an adjustment to bring in a deep pass. He was reminded by Lewis to always "finish" a route.

    As he often did last season, even when he wasn’t playing, Ross faced a large group of reporters in the locker room after practice with his usual poise.

    “It’s been something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time, and I felt really good out there,” Ross said. “I’ve been feeling good all year, and I wanted to have a good day today. I think it was OK. I had a drop and some things I’ll correct. It’s Day 1. We’ll get better."

    For the first time as an NFL player, Ross wasn't trying to play catch-up. Now he has all the time he needs -- and a whole year's worth of knowledge under his belt.

    "Feeling the way I feel now, it feels great. I feel better. I’m happy to be where I am," he said.


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