The Bengals selected John Ross with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and with the 40-yard dash record breaker comes some major injury concerns. Ross is currently recovering from a shoulder surgery that he underwent in early March. He’s expected to be recovered and ready for training camp following that surgery. But, the concerns go deeper, back to 2014 when he tore his meniscus and then ended up needing microfracture surgery, too.
"It was a kickoff return," Ross said, via ESPN, of the meniscus injury. "Just got rolled up on pretty good. And I felt something in my knee, but I didn't think nothing of it. My knee swelled up after the game. And it never really went down. But I was worried if I said something, I probably would have to sit out for the rest of the season."
Ross missed one game, but went on to play through the meniscus tear in his right knee, waiting to get surgery until the end of the season.
And that’s not all. In 2015, one day into being cleared by the Washington medical staff to return to play, Ross tore his ACL and meniscus in his left knee, and missed an entire college season as a result. The injury occurred during a spring practice and Ross admitted he didn't completely trust the knee that had been surgically repaired. Entering his senior season, Ross had already undergone three knee surgeries. What positive regarding Ross’ injuries is the toughness he’s shown, playing through the initial meniscus tear and shoulder injury more recently.
Bengals fans know all too well about microfracture surgery after Vontaze Burfict underwent it and missed considerable time and then James Wright underwent it and now has seen himself off the roster as a result of injuries getting in the way of him making it on the field.
David J. Chao, MD, an orthopedist and former NFL team doctor for 17 years wrote about the risk the Bengals are taking by selecting Ross.
Ross recorded the fastest-ever 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine despite having had major surgery on both knees in the past few years. The former University of Washington star’s latest surgery, on his shoulder, may have him missing offseason workouts, but he should be ready by training camp. The bigger concern are his ACL and reported microfracture surgeries. Performed when the cartilage damage is deep down to bone, a microfracture surgery typically indicates a downward trend to an athlete’s career.
But, Ross isn’t the only player the Bengals drafted who comes with injury concerns. Third round pick Carl Lawson out of Auburn also has suffered through a torn ACL and more recently a hip fracture, which he played through.
Lawson, out of Auburn, is the pass rusher the Bengals need. However, his history includes an ACL tear and a hip fracture. Judging by reports, the hip injury may have been to the acetabulam (socket). Certainly, he can (and did) play with the injury. Typically, though, the injury increases the onset of arthritis. The question is how quickly that will come.
The Bengals have noted they put Ross through many medical tests when he visited Cincinnati and hopefully they’ve vetted the situation to know what they’re getting into with Lawson, too. At this point, all we can hope for is that these players do what they need to do to stay healthy and have long and successful NFL careers in Cincinnati.