On Monday, rookie wide receiver John Ross made his long-awaited return to practice.
John Ross dressed for #Bengals practice. Returning punts— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) October 16, 2017
The Bengals are still waiting to get some return on their top-10 investment. Cincinnati spent the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft on the Washington Huskies game-breaker, hoping to find another playmaker at receiver to get the offense back to being an explosive unit.
During his final college season, Ross caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns as one of the most explosive players in college football.
However, rehabilitation from shoulder surgery, as well as a preseason knee injury, have lead to Ross appearing in just one game to this point. Ross hasn’t practiced since Week 3, so there’s no guarantee he’ll play this week even if he’s healthy enough to.
The Bengals got more good injury news on Monday as Dre Kirkpatrick was able to practice, but Adam Jones was unable to go, as was slot receiver Tyler Boyd.
Adam Jones is now working on the rehab field. Tyler Boyd is not participating today during the open period.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) October 16, 2017
Kirkpatrick is battling a shoulder injury, while Jones is dealing with back spasms and other unknown injuries. The Bengals have been fine without Jones thanks to Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson III stepping up, but not having Jones and Kirkpatrick means guys like Josh Shaw and Keivarae Russell have to play more, which could be bad news against an explosive Steelers offense.
As for Boyd, he’s battling a knee sprain that will almost certainly sideline him this week. Getting Ross back would help offset the loss of Boyd, whose absence has also allowed Alex Erickson to take on a bigger role in the passing game.
Two other Bengals who didn’t practice were back safety Derron Smith and starting h-back Ryan Hewitt.
Adam Jones (back), Ryan Hewitt & Tyler Boyd (knees) & Derron Smith (ankle) not practicing today. #Bengals— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) October 16, 2017
Smith has missed the last three games with his injury. Hewitt missed Week 5 and is uncertain to play this week while battling a knee injury.
Monday’s practice was not part of the three official practices the Bengals have before facing the Steelers. Monday was an extra session Cincinnati got because they had the bye week off. That means there will be no participation report for Monday, so it’s impossible to know how much work injured guys like Ross and Kirkpatrick got in.
After practice, Ross reportedly said he “felt great.” Hopefully that continues through the week and he can actually play against the Steelers on Sunday.
John Ross on today's practice: "Felt great. Really good. Got a chance to run. Bye week helped to recover, heal up well."— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) October 16, 2017
John Ross said his knee feels great. Didn't do team drills, but said he feels ready to play.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) October 16, 2017
"If they give green light, not gonna say no"