The Cincinnati Bengals are planning to play John Ross for the first time in the regular season. According to Ian Rapoport, Ross is slated to make his debut tonight when the Bengals host the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football.
Entering Thursday, Ross was listed as questionable to play after getting in three full practices this week. But on a short week, these were lighter sessions that didn’t exactly get Ross as prepared to play as a normal week would. Even so, it looks like the coaches think he’s ready to make his debut in primetime.
Ross exited the Bengals’ preseason finale against Indianapolis Colts toward the end of the first quarter with a knee injury. It was later reported to be just a sprain that could sideline him for 1-2 regular-season games. Ross had one catch for six yards and one rushing play, on a reverse for 25 yards in which his speed was clearly on display. The Bengals appeared to be getting him heavily involved in the preseason finale, but that came to an abrupt end, leaving us without much to go on with Ross in this offense entering tonight.
The Bengals already had plenty of weapons before taking the Washington Huskies receiver in this year’s NFL Draft. However, the Bengals did need another playmaker at receiver to get the offense back to being an elite unit that can score on anyone, or just score at all, something they failed to do in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.
That’s why Ross can still have a major impact on how successful this Bengals team is in 2017. 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. But while that was a great year, it was the only one in which Ross made a major impact.
In his first two seasons at Washington, Ross caught a combined 33 passes for 579 yards and five scores across 26 games from 2013-14. Then in 2015, Ross tore his ACL and missed the entire season. He also had surgery to repair a torn labrum shortly after Washington's pro day this offseason.
That injury history made Ross a very risky pick with the ninth overall selection in this year’s draft, but he’s managed to overcome them all and potentially be active in a regular-season game tonight. Hopefully, it’s a night to remember for Ross and the Bengals.