No longer playing catch up, Ross just catching passes as OTAs begin


No one was more fired up for the first practice of OTAs than wide receiver John Ross after his rookie year was washed out by injuries, indecision and ineffectiveness.

“It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Ross said after Tuesday’s practice in which he was a big part of the offense, catching a lot of passes from both starter Andy Dalton and backup Matt Barkley.

“I felt really good out there on Day 1,” Ross added. “I’ve been feeling good all year. I wanted to have a good day today.”

›› Bengals have 90 of 91 players present for start of OTAs

In addition to some longer passes down the field, Ross made a couple of difficult, contested catches along the sideline.

“He had a bunch of good plays today, and he had a couple of stupid plays, so that’s what is going to happen,” said Bob Bicknell, who is in his first year as Bengals wide receivers coach. “I’m glad he does. I’d be upset if we weren’t doing some stupid things right now so you go in and coach it up.”

The wide receivers coach at Baylor University last year, Bicknell said he’s been impressed with Ross since arriving in Cincinnati in January.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Like our Cincinnati Bengals News Now Facebook page

“Since I’ve been here I see a really special athlete, a kid that it’s really important to,” Bicknell said. “He learns pretty well. He’s going to make some mistakes as a young kid, but he’s got unbelievable speed and catches the ball really well. He’s got little things (to improve upon), like his eyes. I’m really excited about him and being able to work with him.”

Ross fell behind from the start last year due not only to offseason labrum surgery that prevented him from practicing in the offseason program, but also the PAC-12 rule that prohibits rookies from even being present for OTAs.

He said everything after that felt like he was playing catch up.

“I couldn’t put a stamp on what was the problem because there were so many problems,” Ross said. “I was focused on something new every week. That’s when I realized it’s just not working for me. So I had a meeting with the coaches and trainers and focused on where I needed to be and what was best for me moving forward.”

›› 2 Bengals rookies share an inconceivable bond and inspiring coping method

Ross said in addition to feeling more comfortable, he feels more confident.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said he never worried about the part of the receiver’s personality.

“John grew up in Long Beach, Calif., so I have no question about his confidence,” Lewis said. “I know where he went to school, I know where he grew up and I know the block he lived on. I don’t worry about John and his confidence. You have to be confident just to walk every day.”

Follow Jay Morrison on Twitter

What struck Lewis as the biggest difference between the 2017 Ross and the 2018 version is the bulk he added.

“I think his upper body looks way different,” Lewis said. “I think he’s maturing as a man, and he’s developing as a man physically.

“Last year he didn’t have any offseason of weight training whatsoever or virtually nothing or anything of substance so this was the first time over the last six weeks that he’s had an opportunity to do those kind of things.”

›› 5 undrafted Bengals most likely to make the roster

Ross said his weight fluctuated between 188 and 185 last year, while this year he’s between 196 and 190 “depending on the week and the weather and what I eat.”

“I’m a lot stronger,” he added. “I can do everything in the weight room. My legs have gotten stronger. I’m back lifting with everyone. I started college real small and wasn’t able to lift and then I got to lift and I felt better, I felt better as a player. Now I’m back to where I was when I was in college my senior year, as far as how physically ready I felt in college. I feel the same way now.

“Last year I just honestly wasn’t physically and mentally ready for what I got myself into,” he continued. “Feeling the way I am now, it feels great. I feel better. I’m happy to be where I am.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Baker Mayfield leads Browns to first win in 635 days: Social media reacts
Baker Mayfield leads Browns to first win in 635 days: Social media reacts

The Cleveland Browns got back in the win column after 635 days Thursday. In his NFL debut, quarterback Baker Mayfield, the team’s first overall pick in this year’s draft, brought the Browns back from a 14-0 deficit to beat the New York Jets 21-17. Here’s how people reacted to the win on Twitter:
Prep volleyball: Fenwick outlasts Alter, runs winning streak to six
Prep volleyball: Fenwick outlasts Alter, runs winning streak to six

It was a shaky start but a strong finish for the Fenwick High School volleyball team. Despite losing the first set to an Alter team that rattled off 10 consecutive points for the win, the Falcons battled back for a 14-25, 25-5, 25-16, 21-25, 15-9 victory over the Knights Thursday night at Alter. It marked the sixth consecutive win for the 9-3 Falcons...
It’s about time: Cleveland Browns snap 19-game winless streak
It’s about time: Cleveland Browns snap 19-game winless streak

For the first time in 635 days, the Cleveland Browns found a way to win. Baker Mayfield showed them how. The No. 1 overall pick replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor and sparked the Browns, who got two 1-yard touchdown runs from Carlos Hyde and beat the New York Jets 21-17 on Thursday night for their first win since Dec. 24, 2016. And so ends Cleveland&rsquo...
HS Roundup 9/20: McCarthy, Lahmon lead Oakwood at SWBL tournament

Tom McCarthy shot a 77 to help the Oakwood boys golf squad pick up a ten-stroke win in the Southwestern Buckeye League Tournament at Beechwood Golf Course on Thursday. Sam Lahmon of Oakwood and Noah Lindsey of Waynesville were named players of the year. Alex Grant joined Lahmon and McCarthy on the Southwestern Division All-League first team along with...
HS Results 9/20: Alter tennis secures split of GCLC

Football Thursday’s Results Miami East 52, Bethel 28 Boys Soccer Thursday’s Results Alter 1, Indian Hill 0 Bellbrook 4, Brookville 0 Botkins 3, New Knoxville 0 Butler 2, Northmont 1 Carroll 2, Springboro 1 Dayton Christian 2, Chaminade-Julienne 0 Eaton 5, Franklin 1 Edgewood 2, Northwest 1 Lebanon 4, Middletown 1 Madison 4, Preble Shawnee...
More Stories