Ross listening to think tank k electric share price forecast

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That’s what the vets have been telling John Ross this spring. In anticipation of next Tuesday’s first voluntary on-field session against the defense both fellow wide receivers A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell are telling Ross to just stop thinking and start allowing his enormous talent to surface.

Nobody is kidding anybody here. Give John Ross III at least that. Smart man. Bright guy. He knows it’s the same deal as last year, probably bigger. He likes offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s new offense and appreciates how he has kept it simple. But he doesn’t see huge differences. Ross knows he’s got a new set of eyes in first-year receivers coach Bob Bicknell, but he knows that’s not going to change what all eyes expect. No one cares that most Bengals rookie receivers have struggled (see chart at bottom of story) in this century.

“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.”

And you don’t have to think very much to know why Ross is sounding and looking so good this spring. A year ago from this very day he wasn’t even here going through phase II of the voluntary workouts, thanks to an antiquated NCAA rule that finally got punted this year. And even if he was here, it probably wouldn’t have helped because pre-draft shoulder surgery prevented him from getting on the field until early August.

Look, when Ross showed up for camp, all he had was the No. 9 pick in the draft hanging around his neck like an anchor. If that wasn’t heavy enough, there was that ball-and-chain known as the Fastest 40-Yard Dash Ever from the scouting combine he also dragged in.

Tyler Boyd , who by the way, along with Green and Cris Collinsworth is one of the three most prolific Bengals rookie wide receivers in the last 37 seasons, says if Ross had been healthy, “He would have been straight.” Instead, Boyd thought he was “overwhelmed.” Ross himself admits, “I didn’t know what I was getting in to.”

Two surgically-repaired shoulders have allowed him to resume his regular lifting regimen. He’s back to doing squats and he’s been in all the drills for all the routes and all the throws that he missed last year. His teammates, especially the guy throwing it to him, have noticed.

“He looks good. Completely different than he did last year,” says quarterback Andy Dalton . “You can tell he worked hard. It looks like he’s getting back to where he was. He looks smooth. Everyone knew he was fast, but he’s not just a straight-line guy. He can stop and go. He’s got some shiftiness to him.

Last year he was trying to learn and rehab his shoulder at the same time. But seeing it on paper and actually going out and doing it are two completely different things. Now that he’s had an offseason to get healthy, you can tell. He’s catching the ball really well. He’s going up and getting it the little we’ve done so far.”

Last year I let everything get to me.” Ross says. “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 its 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.”

You have to hand it to Ross. He’s reached out to anyone who’ll listen in an attempt to wipe away that rookie year. Last month he texted fellow Southern Cali native T.J. Houshmandzadeh and this went a bit differently than that how-you-doing-here’s-some-college-advice phone call they had when Ross was a Long Beach high school senior. Ross asked Houshmandzadeh if he’d be up to working with him and he didn’t have to ask the third-leading receiver in Bengals history twice.

Ross loves working with him and is looking forward to June and the resumption of their workouts. No doubt part of the attraction is that Houshmandzadeh still has that steel-armor ego of a dozen years ago as Ross seems to be slowly regaining some of his confidence that was so shaken last year.

“T.J. is the most confident guy I’ve ever met in my life. I can say that with a straight face,” Ross says. “That first day we met I felt like I knew him my whole life. He doesn’t think he could still be a third receiver in the NFL. He believes it.”