The Cincinnati Bengals will open training camp this Friday with most of the 90-man roster cleared for work.
However, first-round draft pick John Ross may not be getting a full workload right away. On Tuesday, head coach Marvin Lewis revealed that Ross, who is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, could miss preseason games, though he is expected to return at some point in the preseason.
Marvin: John Ross will have an opportunity to play at some point in preseason. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) July 25, 2017
Along with the recovery from that procedure, Ross was absent for all of Cincinnati’s OTAs because he attended Washington, a school that runs on a quarter system. NFL players are not allowed to take part in NFL workouts (other than rookie minicamp) until their school year and graduation are complete.
His recovery and the NFL’s funky rule are why we have yet to see Ross suited up with all of his teammates, and it sounds like that might not come as soon as camp opens. Ross did attend minicamp, but was not allowed to participate.
Then again, it’s not unheard for players to be a full-go in training camp but be limited, if not held out completely from preseason games.
That’s usually reserved for veterans, but the Bengals will likely play it smart and not give Ross a big workload in preseason games. They’re going to make sure his body is not only fully recovered, but that it’s also acclimated to the NFL before putting him in live-game action.
Ross was somewhat injury-prone throughout his college career, so the Bengals will do everything they can to ensure he avoids a significant injury early in his rookie season. Along with tearing his ACL in 2015, Ross endured a torn meniscus the year prior, which required two surgeries, including microfracture surgery. His injuries were enough that some NFL teams were scared of drafting him.
The Bengals, however, were very confident his health wouldn’t be an issue in the pros, which is why they spent a top-10 selection on him.
Make no mistake about it: Ross is a major player on this team and will be a big factor in how well the the Bengals bounce back from last year’s 6-9-1 debacle. It would certainly help ease the pain of that season if the early draft pick produced helps create a top-10 talent like Ross who actually lives up to his draft billing.
A lot is riding on Ross’ shoulders, but the Bengals are being wise to make sure there isn’t too much put on them right away. My guess is Ross gets a healthy balance of full and limited practices in through training camp, then plays in the second and third preseason games.
There’s also a chance he opens camp on the Non-Football Injury list, but it’s unlikely he remains there for too long.
Update: According to Bengals.com, Ross isn’t expected to practice “for a couple of weeks”.