Established professionals — two currently playing, one retired — are talking, and Cincinnati Bengals second-year wide receiver John Ross is listening.
Ross, the ninth overall pick of the 2017 draft, had a rookie campaign to forget after appearing in three games and posting no catches. His season ended after a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve.
So, how does Ross approach the 2018 season?
He eyes a rebound and he won’t be alone, as teammates A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell have told Ross to not overthink everything on the field and just play, according to the Bengals’ official website.
“That’s one of my biggest things,”
“I’m thinking about everything I’m doing and it’s taking away from how talented I actually am. They’re in my ear a lot saying, ‘Just relax. Be yourself. We can tell when you’re yourself. You perform better. You just have to stop thinking so much.'”
Ross has also gained valuable insight from former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has worked out with the Ross during the offseason.
“He said, ‘You got drafted ninth because you’re talented and you work hard,'”
Ross recalled. “‘Just continue to do so. You’ll get better.'”
Armed with valuable information from teammates and Houshmandzadeh, Ross hopes to put his disappointing rookie season behind him and show he can be the player the Bengals saw in him leading up to the 2017 draft.
“Last year I let everything get to me,”
“I let my injury get to me. I was trying to do more than I could. I was out of shape. I’m not trying to make excuses, but it’s real life things. You can’t just come in the NFL and be that guy. You have to come in and prepare. I’ve learned that. It’s growth and progression from here on.”