The Cincinnati Bengals are already one of the NFL’s healthier teams entering Week 1.
They could be even healthier if wide receiver John Ross is able to face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in the season opener.
Despite reports that Ross could miss the first two regular-season games, the rookie receiver returned to practice on Thursday.
Ross bounds out with helmet to practice— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) September 7, 2017
Ross was dressed for practice on Monday and Wednesday but did not have his helmet either day. He did some light one-on-one work on Wednesday but spent the majority of both days on the rehab field.
The key here will be how much Ross practices on Thursday. This is the day he has to get a full practice in if he wants to play on Sunday since Friday is more of a walkthrough. Even if he does go full today, it’s far from a certainty he makes his regular season debut this Sunday. Ross will likely be limited on the injury report released this afternoon and is still unlikely to play in Week 1.
As for the rest of the injured Bengals, it was business as usual with safety Shawn Williams and tight end C.J. Uzomah both sidelined.
CJ Uzomah and Shawn Williams aren't practicing. John Ross has his helmet with him today.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) September 7, 2017
We can pretty much rule out both players for Week 1 and probably Week 2. The good news is the Bengals have depth at both positions to hold down the fort for two games. With Williams out, we’ll probably see both Clayton Fejedelem and Derron Smith getting significant playing time in the first two games. Fejedelem has earned the right to start, but Smith has played well enough that he should also see the field a lot. Josh Shaw will help out at safety, too, but will also be playing slot cornerback with Darqueze Dennard likely to see more boundary work with Adam Jones suspended.
As for Uzomah being out, that means Tyler Kroft has a chance to lock down the No. 2 tight end spot. Kroft and Uzomah have been battling for that spot since last year, though Kroft held it for all of 2015 during their rookie seasons. The former 2015 NFL Draft picks have shown flashes of being reliable tight ends, but neither has done enough to secure that second spot behind Tyler Eifert.
Be sure to check back later for the full injury and participation report for the Bengals and Ravens.