Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wouldn’t come out and say it, but the injury report the team released a short time later said it all:
Rookie wide receiver John Ross will play Sunday vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
Ross, who hasn’t played since re-aggravating a knee injury in Week 2 against Housto, is not even listed on the injury report. He originally injured the knee on a 25-yard run against the Colts in the preseason finale Aug. 30.
After playing just five snaps against the Texans, Ross did not return to practice until Oct. 16. He was limited in his first three practices, but has been a full participant in the last four.
“He’s had a good two weeks of practice, which is what he needed to have,” Lewis said. “The one thing he was never able to do was practice against the defense. That’s one of the best things as far as honing your craft is when you have to practice against the other side of the ball. Because now you’re getting as live-replicated reps as we can get you.
“And when he didn’t have that for all of training camp, a lot of snaps were lost,” Lewis added. “If he had a third of the snaps in training camp and a third of the snaps in OTAs, that would have been 600 more snaps that he hasn’t been a part of.”
Ross’ return is well timed with the Bengals ruling out wide receivers Tyler Boyd (knee) and Cody Core (concussion). Boyd hasn’t played since the Week 5 against Buffalo, while Core suffered his head injury Sunday in Pittsburgh.
That means not only will Ross play, but he should get a good amount of snaps, based both on need and what he has shown in practice.
“It’s been good for him,” Lewis said. “I think his confidence level is way better than it was. Because he’s been out here with us and the rigors and ups and downs of practice. He’s knocked down. He’s gotten up. Every time he goes on the ground, no one had to ooh and ahh. He actually gets knocked down and gets back at up. That’s a good thing.”
Linebacker Kevin Minter (elbow) and H-back Ryan Hewitt (knee) also are out.