Taking his potential loss of speed into consideration, I was left contemplating two days ago how Joe Haden, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ new starting left outside cornerback, would be able to handle the Cincinnati Bengals’ rookie first-round draft pick, wide receiver John Ross, who posted the lowest 40-yard dash time in the history of the Combine, in the low 4.2s.
Upon further reflection, I can’t help but wonder if that scenario will ever even develop. Not only is Haden frequently injured of late, Ross has a history of injuries scattered throughout his career, and he left yesterday’s game after brief action with a right knee injury.
As of the time of this writing (for the record, about quarter to two in the morning, eastern standard time), the severity of the injury is not known, but perhaps small comfort can be taken from the fact that he was originally listed as questionable to return when he did leave the game.
The rookie has not had the greatest luck so far, and in fact has spent much of training camp and the preseason banged up, having already spent much of the offseason recovering from shoulder surgery on a torn labrum that he suffered through last season.
Ross made his preseason debut last week, though he only got one touch, which was a jet sweep for eight yards. During yesterday’s game, he made his first catch for six yards, and he added another carry that went for 25 yards, but he now heads into the regular season with just three touches.
Luckily for the Bengals, they are not depending upon him being an immediate starter, or even heavy contributor, as they have AJ Green on one side and figure to continue to use Brandon LaFell, the veteran that they signed last year, on the opposite side. Last year’s second-round pick, Tyler Boyd, will continue to be their primary slot receiver.
Ross will be worked in as is fitting, I’m sure, although he first has to get healthy, and for that, we must wait on word about the nature and severity of the knee injury that caused him to leave the game. Perhaps it ends up being nothing and he misses no time, or perhaps it could be something more.
As for their other prominent offensive addition, second-round running back Joe Mixon was held out of the preseason finale and perhaps is likely to start. In the first three preseason games, he totaled 20 carries for 78 yards, with three receptions for 32 yards.