The Bengals have opted to make some decisions that are drastically different from the past coaching staff.
The staff decided to start players like undrafted rookie wide receiver Damion Willis in A.J. Green’s vacant starting spot. They awarded starting spots to rookie offensive guard Michael Jordan and center Trey Hopkins based on their play.
This has led some to wonder what kind of role wide receiver John Ross would be walking into after missing all of training camp and preseason up until this past Sunday. Head coach Zac Taylor seems to be excited for his return.
“Certainly [Ross is] capable of being a starting receiver in this league when he’s fully healthy, so we have to see where he’s at. I know mentally he’s been engaged, and at every single meeting he’s been dialed in,” Taylor told Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I expect him to be up to speed and ready to play against Seattle, and to play a valuable role for us.”
The Ross may not end up starting, it is a positive sign for Ross that his head coach is speaking so highly of him when he could have just as easily have said the receiver would have to earn his way back onto the field.
Willis has already been named a starter, and Tyler Boyd could easily start as well. Although it has been interesting to see the Bengals have used Boyd almost exclusively in the slot. We will have to wait and see if that continues into the regular season as well. We also don’t know how many weeks Green will miss recovering from his ankle injury, so Cincinnati can use all the play making ability it can get while he’s out.
Ross’ speed is something that helped fuel the Bengals hot start in 2018. He was often used push coverage down field so that Tyler Boyd or Green could run underneath him or run a complimentary route.
In Taylor’s new offense, you can expect him to fill a similar role to what Brandin Cooks played for the Rams last season. That means he will run other receivers open, but he was also run quick slants or screens when the defense commits to playing off of him, which is something the past coaching staff refused to do for some reason. You should also see him used on jet sweeps to help him get in open space as well as open up some more space in the running game.
We will have to wait till Week 1 to see what exactly this Bengals offense and John Ross has in store for the rest of the NFL, but it is a great sign that Taylor is excited.