Ross missed practice with a shoulder injury on Wednesday, even though he had not been on the injury report and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis had said only hours before that he had a chance to play Sunday. Ross was placed on injured reserve shortly afterward.
The injured shoulder was not the same one that Ross had surgery on prior to the draft, according to Bengals.com.
Ross has been at the bottom of the wide receiver pecking order all season, and with six other wideouts on the active roster, he has been a healthy scratch for most of the season. Ross appeared in only three games this season, playing 17 snaps with no receptions. He was targeted twice. Ross had one rushing attempt for 12 yards, which ended in a fumble.
The saga of Ross’ rookie season has been an odd one. Ross recovered from his shoulder surgery late in training camp, only to injure his knee during the fourth preseason game. He returned to play in Week 2 but fumbled on his only carry and was benched for the rest of the game. He missed the next several weeks of practice and games after reinjuring the knee.
When Ross was available to come back, the Bengals were reluctant to play him because they felt he didn’t have the necessary time in practice to be ready to play.
He was activated for the Week 8 game against the Colts but did not have a catch. He also played in the Week 10 game against the Titans but failed to curry favor with the coaching staff after he stopped running on a route, which resulted in an incomplete pass.
“John had a play last week that we weren’t really thrilled with. He has to keep progressing,” Lewis said the following week.
“The QB expects him to understand where he needs him to be,” Lewis continued. “[Ross] let his teammates down, he let me down, and he let 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. That’s what you have to tell the receiver — he can’t dictate where the ball goes. The QB has to make the read, do what he does and throw the ball based on the coverage and his progression. In that case, [Dalton] chose John. He made a nice throw and put the ball where it needed to be, and it ended up [not very far] away. If he kept running, he likely catches it.”