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John Ross reflects on up-and-down preseason opener

Now one of the youngest starters on the team, Ross knows that overcoming mistakes is always a part of the grind.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations for second-year wide receiver John Ross have new heights this training camp. But Ross knows the preseason is where you get re-acclimated to things, not be perfect all the time.

Thursday’s preseason opener against the Bears was the first time Ross played organized football since Week 10 of last season, before he was placed on injured reserve for a bad shoulder. It didn’t take long before Ross had to overcome a mistake.

Much like his rookie debut last season, the first time the ball came Ross’s way, a turnover happened. But Ross wasn’t phased by his mishap.

“I’ve run that route 100 times a week. That never happens,” Ross told reporters after the game. “Everybody from the head coach to my offensive coordinator to my receivers coach, A.J. (Green), Andy (Dalton) told me, ‘Don’t worry. It happens. You’ll get it.’ I go back and go to the next play and I’m rolling. That’s already out of my head.”

It’s preseason, the results don’t matter. Ross’s slip on a simple hitch route won’t cost the Bengals anything, the only thing it did was provide Ross a chance to redeem himself soon thereafter, and he did just that.

For nearly any other receiver, a five-yard out route typically doesn’t end up being a 20-yard gain. Ross isn’t just any receiver.

“That’s all I think about. Making a play,” Ross explained. “I saw him over pursue, I went underneath, the safety took a great angle and I couldn’t get into the end zone. I was just thinking about getting the ball and making a play.”

Ross was targeted three more times, all when he was in the end zone. He only came down with one of them, and if his shoe size was a bit larger, we would’ve seen the first touchdown of Ross in a Bengals uniform.

Ross isn’t concern with the size of his feet though.

“The coaches in the press box said I was very close. About an inch. That close,” Ross said. “I could have done better with my feet. I’m watching magic with A.J. about 100 times a week. That’s something I’ve got to work on.”

A.J. Green knows something or two about getting his feet down after high-pointing a target, so that’s a decent size standard Ross is comparing himself too. But Ross, like he’s done for a little over a year now, is just taking things in stride with a focus on the big picture.

“One of the coaches told me after the game, ‘You got your feet wet,’” Ross said. “That’s how I felt. I felt like I made a lot of good plays out there. I got some good separation. I haven’t played that much football in a long time and it felt great.”

He looked great too, and got through the game completely healthy. We’ll chalk that up as a win.