The Cincinnati Bengals got one wide receiver back while losing another. Second-year Tyler Boyd was an inactive for their Thursday night game last night against the Texans, but they did see the debut of their first-round draft pick, John Ross, the owner of the fastest official 40-yard dash time recorded at the NFL Scouting Combine.
But all the speed in the world does not help you hold onto the football any tighter. On the first official touch of his career, the 190-pound wide receiver took the ball on a jet sweep on the second play of their third drive. He was hit hard by Kareem Jackson, who was able to dislodge the football as a result.
And as it just so happened, it proved to be his only touch throughout the entire game, which was the same number of touches as center Russell Bodine. One would think that, given Boyd’s absence, Ross could be in for at least a relatively high snap count, but that proved not to be the case, with Alex Erickson seeing a lot of the Bengals’ work outside of starters A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell.
Many are left wondering at this point why the Bengals even bothered to draft Ross given the context in which he hardly played last night, though it is fair to remind that the rookie, who has a history of injuries, is just returning from one now, and it was unclear if he was even going to play in this game.
Ross already missed a lot of training camp and the preseason, but was expected to see extended work in the preseason finale, only to suffer a knee injury. That injury kept him out of the regular season opener, but he was evidently able to show well enough to dress for the Thursday night game.
Given the absence of Boyd, though, one has to wonder if the Bengals would have dressed Ross had the former been healthy. The team does have seven wide receivers on the 53-man roster, but among them are two rookies and three second-year players.
Andy Dalton completed passes to seven different targets, and only three of them were wide receivers, finding three different running backs in addition to tight end Tyler Eifert. Erickson, in fact, had four receptions for 62 yards, including a 37-yard reception.
With Boyd out, Cody Core nor fellow rookie Josh Malone have had as of yet much of a role on the offensive side of the ball, given all of this, Ross’ activation despite his injury could have simply been out of somewhat of an emergency. They gave him one touch and hit took a hard hit and fumbled, and that was pretty much it after that.