Prior to the Bengals’ game against Washington last Thursday, head coach Zac Taylor thought it’d be possible that wide receiver John Ross would return to practice the Sunday following the game.
However, Ross still hasn’t been able to get on the practice field, but he is setting a similar timeline for Ross’ return this week while confirming his absence from the game on Thursday night.
“He won’t play this Thursday,” Taylor told Richard Skinner of the Local 12 News. “Sunday would be the target for him. He’ll get a full two weeks of practice before Seattle. If we can get two good weeks of practice out of John, I feel confident he’ll be able to play in that game.”
It is obviously preferable to have guys out there practicing, but the overall goal is to have these guys healthy for the regular season. The strange part about all of this was Ross declaring he thought he was far enough in his recovery from his hamstring injury to practice.
It could be a matter of Cincinnati being overly cautious with Ross just to try and make sure that the receiver is healthy enough for the actual games. Hamstring injuries are tough, because it is so easy for players to aggravate the injury while rehabbing it. Taylor also seems more worried about Ross getting live reps at practice than having him play in preseason games.
“It’s not only because of the routes, it’s the run blocking,” Taylor said. “He pays attention in the meetings. He’s a smart kid. He knows it, but it’s a matter of getting out there and processing in the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage, quickly processing what my job is, so you just need the live walkthrough reps, game reps, it doesn’t really matter.”
Ross has really struggled with injuries since joining the Bengals. A shoulder injury cut his rookie season short, and hamstring issues plagued his 2018 season. This new approach of holding Ross out to keep him fresh is a different approach than what he went through last season. Of course, this year, he and the Bengals had the luxury of using training camp and the preseason to let him rest rather than dealing with it during the regular season.
Fans likely have their minds made up on how they feel about Ross already, but freaking out over him missing preseason games isn’t worth it. You should try to save your panic for if his absence extends to the regular season. Cincinnati is going to need all the playmakers it can for the beginning of the regular season without A.J. Green.