Bengals WR John Ross is stepping away from the team for a bit, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Ross’ son has tested positive for COVID-19, so Ross is heading to Los Angeles to care for him (the child’s mother has also tested positive). There is currently no timetable on Ross’ return, and the club is likely to place him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Ross’ decision is admirable, especially since it comes during a pivotal time in his NFL career. The No. 9 overall pick of the 2017 draft, Ross has fallen well short of expectations to date, and Cincinnati made the easy call to decline his fifth-year option for 2021. So this will be a contract year for Ross, who could position himself well for a big payday next offseason if he can get on the field and start living up to his potential.
Of course, health has played a big part in Ross’ struggles to date. Due to various injuries and his inability to impress then-head coach Marvin Lewis, Ross played in just one game in his rookie campaign. Though he started 10 games in 2018, he managed only 21 catches for 210 yards — which was a disappointment in terms of both overall output and yards-per-catch average — and after a hot start to 2019, he missed another eight games due to injury.
Now, A.J. Green is back to full health and the Bengals added Tee Higgins in the second round of this year’s draft, so Ross may have struggled to carve out a ton of playing time anyway. His absence will only make things more difficult from a football perspective, but obviously the health of his family is of paramount importance.