Bengals first-round pick clears air about his durability

Cincinnati Bengals first-round draft pick John Ross doesn’t mind people questioning his durability. In fact, he finds it amusing.

“I’ve played a whole season (since ACL surgery) and people are saying jokes on Twitter that after my first kick return I’ll be holding my knee and stuff like that,” Ross said Friday afternoon during his media rounds at Paul Brown Stadium.

“It’s all funny now,” he added. “I don’t feel the need to keep defending myself.”

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Ross said he can take a punchline.

What he couldn’t handle were the inaccuracies.

“People were saying I tore both my ACLs, and I was playing on an MCL sprain,” Ross said. “I had to go ask my doctors. I was like ‘Was this me?” I had to check my medical history. I don’t remember none of that happening.

So Ross forwarded some of the inaccurate reports to his agent, Brad Cicala, who issued a statement on the receiver’s medical history.

“It’s like you’re playing with somebody’s life,” he said. “I just wanted to release a statement on that for people to know what actually happened. Teams pay attention to stuff like that and then you hear all that and you’re digging deeper into medical history, and now they’re finding something when you were a kid in kindergarten. An ankle sprain might change your life. I definitely wanted to clear the air.”

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And Friday afternoon, Ross didn’t hesitate to detail his injury history for reporters.

“I tore my (left) ACL and attached to that was my meniscus,” he said, referring to the injury he suffered in April 2015, which forced him to miss the entire season.

“I tore my right meniscus during the season of 2014, but I had surgery Jan. 2015,” he added. “And I had the labrum tear, and that was pretty much it.”

The labrum tear occurred Sept. 30 while he was blocking against Stanford. He played the final nine games of the season with the injury, including a three touchdown performance against Oregon the following week.

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“I wasn’t able to use my arms,” he said. “The times I did, I kind of struggled because I didn’t really have the strength in my shoulders. Imagine if I was healthy, is what I can pitch to people.”

Asked what the the most blatantly wrong thing he is he has read about himself, Ross had a surprising answer:

“My birthday,” he said. “People say I’m 22. People say ‘Why would they draft a guy who’s been through knee surgeries and is 22, older than guys who are already in the league?’ I’m definitely 21. I was born in 1995. People say I was born in 94, and I don’t understand where that’s coming from either.”

When he wasn’t clearing up misinformation, Ross touched on his relationship with rapper Snoop Dogg, who was his youth football coach. Ross isn’t the first player to go from the Snoop Youth Football League to the NFL, but he said he’s the first player from Snoop’s team to make it.

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The rapper, who ironically was playing a show at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati on Thursday night, posted an emotional shout-out to Ross via video after the Bengals selected him. But Ross said he didn’t get a chance to talk to his former coach.

“I think he might actually be out of here now,” Ross said. “His schedule is always busy, so I try not to bug him. I was actually at his house last week with his son. We have a great relationship. We always keep in contact.”

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Ross was a running back when he played for Snoop Dogg and into his freshman year of high school.

“I couldn’t catch at first, to be honest,” he said.

But his high school coach fixed that.

“After every practice, we couldn’t leave the practice field until I caught three deep balls,” Ross said. “I used to drop every one, and we would be out there for two extra hours. Guys were just ready to kill me. But I got better at it each and every day.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” he added. “With the guys on the other side of the ball like A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Eifert and an amazing

quarterback in Andy (Dalton), just to be contributing with the speed component, I feel really good about the opportuninty to play in this offense.”

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