The Cincinnati Bengals are entering their bye week with several key players injured from Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. However, the one fans care about the most may be the Bengals’ first round pick John Ross, who has been dealing with a knee injury since Week 2.
Marvin Lewis was asked about Ross’ status early this week during a press conference and was very vague.
"Whenever John Ross comes out there, looks like everybody else and I watch him practice, we’ll have an idea. We’ll see whether or not he deserves to dress," Lewis said.
It is clear the team is taking their time with Ross. He hasn’t practiced all that much as a Bengal. Ross originally wasn’t allowed to practice with the team because Washington University operates on a quarter system, and he technically hadn’t graduated yet when OTAs began.
At the same time, Ross was dealing with a shoulder injury when he joined the team and through the summer. The recovery from that injury forced him to be limited during the beginning of training camp. It also led to him missing the first two preseason game.
Then, when he finally played in the preseason, he suffered a knee sprain in the final game that caused him to miss the Bengals regular season opener. He was inactive in Week 1 due to that knee injury, and then after making his debut in Week 2, he fumbled the ball and was benched. He then hurt his knee again in practice and hasn’t played since.
Lewis also gave some insight into when we should expect to see Ross.
"He’s not been out with the football team enough. He needs a lot of time and a lot of practice," Lewis said. "That’s important. That’s probably as important than getting back healthy where he can begin to practice football again. He needs that. We have to get back to that point first."
The Bengals’ bye week seems like the perfect time for Ross to get back on track. Ross needs to show he is healthy enough to practice before the team will feel comfortable suiting him up again, and the bye gives plenty of time for him to slowly work his way back into football condition.
The team could really use Ross after Tyler Boyd went down with a possible MCL sprain and is expected to miss a couple of weeks. Plus the team has struggled to find a consistent target for Andy Dalton not named A.J. Green this season.
The news that Tyler Eifert will be out for the season also makes the need for Ross to get healthy a little more dire, but the team and Lewis are taking the right approach of waiting until he is healthy to put him on the field again. Hopefully this time they let him stay out there.