It isn’t a secret that third-year receiver John Ross hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations that come with being selected ninth overall in the NFL Draft.
Injuries have been a big thing that have held Ross back over his career in Cincinnati, and there was blood in the water as fans learned he would start training camp on the sideline with a hamstring injury. However, Ross set the record straight that he could’ve participated in practice from Day 1 if necessary, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com:
Ross says he feels good enough to practice and that he would have worked day one if they let him. But it shows you how careful they want to go with the hammy and don’t want to risk a re-tweak that sets him back, a process that’s happened all too often as he heads into his third season. Last year he even got hurt on his longest play as a pro when he pulled his groin grabbing the 39-yard TD in Atlanta and missed a month and limped through another.
It makes sense for a team to be overly cautious with a player who is even just dealing with what appears to be a minor injury at the beginning of training camp. It is pretty common to see serious injuries or at least for players to aggravate injuries by pushing too hard to start out camp. It doesn’t do the player or team any good by needlessly risk them potentially injuring themselves in training camp.
Ross also notes that he has been putting in extra work on and off the field this offseason. As far as on the field stuff, he trained with former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh again this offseason. Houshmandzadeh tried to pass on some advice to keep that hamstring from flaring up as much.
“(Houshmandzadeh) told me while I was (in Los Angeles last month) that I shouldn’t be overworking it,” Ross said. “I think that’s my problem. I don’t nearly do as much as you see people do on Instagram, but I do a lot and go very hard. Even Coach Taylor told (me) to take it easy when I went back this summer. I feel like I toned it down, but I guess I didn’t enough. I think now I’ve got a better idea of how much I can do.”
Ross also goes on to note that he has done something different this offseason off the field by actually putting money into keeping his body running well.
“I think I was doing myself a disservice not putting money into my body. Not that I was spending it somewhere else — it’s just I never knew the importance of taking care of my body because I never had a chance to,” Ross said. “Coming out of college, I never really had no one guide me to do that. Now, being around A.J. and Andy and them, they’re telling me how much they put into their body. It didn’t really click until this year because he said he spent so much money on his body, that’s how he makes so much money. Now that I learned that, it’s going to be a complete turnaround for me. I know for a fact this is going to be my best year.”
It always seems unrealistic to take a players word when they talk about righting their bad histories with injuries. Players saying they will be healthy next season is an unrealistic thing to hold someone to, because injuries are just a part of the NFL. There is no way of saying that a player is doing X, Y and Z so he won’t get hurt next year. If it worked that way, no one would get injured.
The main takeaway from what Ross is saying shouldn’t be negative, though. He is talking about putting in extra work with a respected professional, and he is talking about his commitment outside of practice has increased as well. He has learned some lessons about being a professional over the past two seasons, and time will tell how much of an impact that has on his 2019 season.
At the very least, we as fans should be able to acknowledge that Ross is putting everything he has into making 2019 his best season, and that includes putting his money where his mouth is.