Lewis explains Ross injury and Bengals decision to place him on injured reserve
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis explained on Thursday after the team's practice how rookie wide receiver John Ross went from having a, "good opportunity ... to possibly be suited up this week (when the Bengals host the Chicago Bears)," early Wednesday afternoon to being placed on season-ending injured reserve just a few hours later due to a left shoulder injury.
Ross participated in the team's walk-through practice late Wednesday morning, and when Lewis was asked about the possibility of Ross playing on Sunday at his noon press conference said: "I think he’ll have an opportunity. It might be at cornerback (laughs). He’s done it, he’s played it (laughs). That was the first video I ever saw of John Ross, was him playing cornerback. But yes, this is a good opportunity for John to possibly be suited up this week. We just broke news in here."
Lewis said perhaps his comments about Ross playing fueled him to say something about the shoulder issue, which had been bothering him for a few weeks.
"That probably put the pressure on him (to say something)," said Lewis.
Ross had an MRI after the walk-through that determined he needed surgery.
Ross had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder after the NFL Scouting Combine in late February/early March, which prevented him from participating for a few weeks during training camp.
"He felt it not getting better, but making it harder to sleep so he wanted to get it looked at again and have the scans compared," said Lewis. "He had the scans and he’s had this condition which some guys have – we’ve had a couple guys that have the shoulder on one side, generally it’s parallel on the other. I think earlier the physician in Washington mentioned that to him and then your symptoms seem to escalate."
It was during a practice a couple of weeks ago that Lewis first had an inkling that the shoulder might be bothering Ross.
"A couple weeks ago when it was raining we were practicing on the grass, he said when he went to extend it for a deep pass he ended up dropping (and) said he felt hindered on that side a little bit," Lewis said. "He pointed to that to me when he came to my office and told me. I said, 'How long?' He said, 'It’s just been bothering me. Now, it’s getting to the point where I can’t sleep.' "
Lewis said it was understandable that Ross kept from telling him how much the shoulder was bothering him.
"Guys have things all the time," said Lewis. "They don’t want to hear my aches and pains either. He wanted to play. He wanted to keep going. He was having a hard time sleeping. He said the players kept telling him you have to say something and see what is going on."
Ross wound up playing in only three games and 17 snaps this season after being taken ninth overall in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
He suffered a knee injury in the preseason finale against Indianapolis that prevented him from being able to play in the regular-season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
After playing the following game against Houston and losing a fumble the only time he touched the ball on 12-yard end around he re-injured the knee in practice leading up to the following game against Green Bay. That injury caused him to miss the next four games. He was active for the Oct. 29 game against Indianapolis, but played only a few snaps and was inactive for the following game at Jacksonville. He was active for the Nov. 12 game at Tennessee, but again played only a handful of snaps thanks in part to not completing a deep pass route that might have been a touchdown if he had.
That led Lewis to saying at his press conference the next day that Ross, "let his teammates down, he let me down and he let (quarterback) Andy (Dalton) down, because, maybe that ball isn’t supposed to go there in that coverage, but if you do it right and run like he can run, that ball can go there and be a big play for us."
Ross was placed on the inactive list in each of the next three games despite not being on the injury report for any of those weeks.
While it has certainly been a disappointing season for Ross, Lewis said he has had a good attitude and that he will get a chance to start the 2018 season with a complete bill of health and be able to go through a full offseason of Organized Team Activity sessions, mini-camp and training camp.
"That was part of him saying can we do this now or whenever he will decide to do it," said Lewis. "These are the pressures that come with being a No. 1 draft pick. You are always held to that standard from the time you step into the NFL, because the fans, the media, everybody always wants that. Your teammate, they always want to see you. That’s why what he’s been doing on the practice field the last couple weeks has been great, because his teammates saw everything we saw, which is great.”