MARVIN LEWIS - Head coach
JOHN ROSS - Wide receiver
Initial comments ...
Lewis: "We are pleased that John could make it down and spend the day here today, so you can fire away and ask some questions."
What have these last 24 hours been like for you?
Ross: "Pretty hectic, just not knowing where I was going to land, but excited at the same time. Just being able to be with my family was great."
What did you do after the draft?
Ross: "My family and I went out to eat, and we had a good time."
And then you hopped on a plane a few hours later?
Ross: (Laughs) "Yeah. That was another crazy part — all the travelling — but you are thankful for all you go through and to be in the position that you are in."
You said you had a good vibe coming to Cincinnati. Did you have good vibes anywhere else you visited, or was it just this place?
Ross: "This was probably the best place I visited, after speaking with Coach Lewis for as long as we did at Columbus, talking with the head coach when I got here, and (talking with) everyone else. Talking with Mr. Brown (Bengals team president) as well. I didn't get to talk to any other owner, so after leaving here I felt really good about the opportunity to play here."
Do you think when you are plugged in that you can bring some contributions?
Ross: "Definitely. With the guys on the other side of the ball like A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Eifert and an amazing quarterback in Andy (Dalton), and just to be contributing with the speed component, I feel really good about the opportunity to play on this offense."
You played in the secondary before, do you think that will help you adjust to the NFL?
Ross: "Definitely, because sometimes now I'll get a corner and I can feel what he is thinking just by looking at his eyes, his body language, and just reading into what he is thinking."
When did you realize that you were fast?
Ross: "When I was younger, that's all I did well (laughs). I was always a skinnier kid, but I always was running by people. So I kind of figured maybe this will help me with my football career, as that is what I would do well."
Have you ever lost a race?
Ross: "In track. Its funny, everyone labels me as a track guy, but I didn't like track and I only ran track seriously for one year."
What did you run when you ran track? Was it in high school?
Ross: "Yes, in my senior year. When I was doing track full-time, I was 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, and I also did the 4x100 relay."
Did you like playing corner?
Ross: "I did like playing corner, just because it gave me another chance to compete and to show off my versatility and market myself. I did like being on offense more — having the ball and becoming a playmaker for the team."
How were you able to go to both offensive meetings and defensive meetings?
Ross: "My coach did a really good job of focusing me on one side of the ball, so I wasn't going back and forth. I already knew the offense, so I didn't have to go back and forth as much. I wanted to focus on running more on the defense, so I was more in the defensive room than in the offensive room."
Bengals WRs coach James Urban said that you also can stop and go laterally. Was that a practice thing? How did that come to you?
Ross: "Maybe in high school, you get the sense that you don't want to be just fast, because that doesn't work against everyone, especially against teams who's schemes allow players to figure those types of things out. It's not just about being fast. You have to have a changeup, and I think it's imperative to have a changeup because it throws defenders off. It's all on the guy who throws a changeup, as those guys don't know what to do with him."
Did being a cornerback transfer to your skillset as a receiver?
Ross: "Definitely. I also think that started in high school. I went both ways. I worked on that a lot. That's being consistent and to practice that day after day."
Knowing that you are on a offense with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, does it help that you know that you don't have to carry the burden and that you can learn from them?
Ross: "It feels good. Like I was saying earlier, its nice being in a balanced offense like this. It's an amazing opportunity, and I feel blessed to be in a position like this, as A.J. is going to get a lot of attention. With that, it gives me a whole lot of opportunities to help them on offense."
You have returned kicks. Can you return punts?
Ross: "I returned punts my freshman year."
Do you feel comfortable doing both?
Ross: "Yeah, definitely. I love to return punts and kickoffs."
Have you talked to any current members on the team?
Ross: "I spoke to A.J. last night and Andy (Dalton), as they texted me, 'congratulations.' "
Care to divulge more into what they said?
Ross: "That was pretty much it. I think they understood how hectic the night was probably going to be, and they just wanted to tell me, 'congratulations' and 'welcome.' "
Lewis: (Joking) "Here's the one shot that you're going to have at him."
Have you played gunner covering punts?
Ross: "I did not play gunner. I was actually the jammer. I was the guy blocking the gunner."
Coach Lewis, how important was John's visit for you? What did you learn about him?
Lewis: "The time spent when he came in — he came in on a Friday and Saturday — was just an opportunity in a more relaxed atmosphere, with a chance to sit down and talk. It was a chance for the coaches to spend more time with him on football — the position coaches and coordinators. Particularly the position coaches over in Indianapolis, and Coach Urban (wide receivers coach James Urban) went out to Seattle and spent time with him there. But to come here and have an opportunity to spend time with Kenny (offensive coordinator Ken Zampese) and myself and the other coaches, it's a better chance where he can relax. He gets to know us more. As I tell these guys when they come visit, this is going to be like a marriage. It's going to be a union. We're going to spend time together, and we both have to be on the same page of what our expectations are moving forward and for him to be comfortable. We've got to provide an opportunity for him to do here in Cincinnati the things that he was successful doing in his college career. And then the other things that he has to learn as he goes forward will come naturally with the more opportunity he has to get the things that maybe he has to spend a little bit more time on. I think the guys feel comfortable with that. It's kind of an interview both ways, for them to get a comfort level around us and so forth.
"When the phone rang yesterday for him, I think he already kind of knew who it was. I didn't want to spend much time with him on the phone there in (Philadelphia), because he was on the phone with his family and there with his family. I didn't want to become a part of that spectacle that's already going on there any more than we have to (laughs). I called him this morning, and he picks up on the first ring. That's our kind of guy. We don't have to go to a voicemail that's not set up and all of that (laughs). But that makes a difference, and that's what we're looking for. I think we got that comfort level with him when John came back here to Cincinnati."
You seem like an intelligent and articulate guy. Have academics meant a lot to you?
Ross: "Definitely. It makes me a better football player. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for academics. I definitely think it translates to the field. The more competitive you are in school, I think it translates to the field. And that's why I think I'm here today."
You have a relationship with Snoop Dogg, because he was your coach in youth football. He even made you a video congratulating you. Did he call you at all last night?
Ross: "No, he didn't. I think he might actually be out here now. I think I saw that. But his schedule is always busy, so I try not to bug him. I was actually at his house last week with his son. We have a great relationship. We always keep in contact."
He was here in Cincinnati yesterday for a performance. Is that a sign?
Ross: "Maybe (laughs). I hope so (laughs)."
What's the biggest thing you've learned from your relationship with DeSean Jackson?
Ross: "Really, just how to become a professional and learn how to use my speed. When I was first getting back off of my knee surgery, I was thinking, 'Now I've got to get stronger. Now that I'm faster, now it's got to be just speed, speed, speed. Consistently, just speed.' Once I worked out with him, he kind of told me and broke it down, that that's not how it needs to be. We talked about the changeup and throwing defenders off with the speed, because it's going to be very pivotal versus a lot of different teams."
James Urban was in Philadelphia when DeSean was there. Has DeSean had good things to say about Coach Urban?
Ross: "He said he loves Coach Urban — his energy, his edge and everything he brings to the table."
You were very good in the red zone last year. What makes you so good when you're closer to the goal line?
Ross: "I wanted to be a complete receiver for my team. With everyone calling me just a 'speed guy,' that's what I didn't want. Like I said, I love to compete. That's what I like to do. And I think that's when my team needed me most, because when we weren't in the red zone, teams played off and played a lot of cover-two (coverage) to take away the deep part of our game. So I had to work on the intermediate routes. Being in the red zone is when they needed me most."
Do you have a favorite route?
Ross: "I don't have a favorite route. Every route is my favorite route — whatever gets called. I love to run."
Did you ever play any running back?
Ross: "I did. Actually, I was a running back in high school. That's how I started. I couldn't catch at first, to be honest. I could not catch."
How did you improve your hands?
Ross: "Just the consistency. After every practice, we couldn't leave the practice field until I caught three deep balls. I used to drop every one, and we would be out there for two extra hours. Guys were just ready to kill me. But I got better at it each and every day."
A lot of people feel the Bengals have a playoff-caliber roster. What does it mean to go to a team that can potentially win a lot of games?
Ross: "I'm very happy. I know it's a very good team. Like I said earlier, I'm in a blessed situation to be in a talented offense like this. I know this team is usually known for defense. Like I said, I'm just happy to be here, because like you said, we can be a playoff-caliber team."
How aware are you of the other teams in the division, like Pittsburgh and Baltimore, who have a lot of defensive tradition and history?
Ross: "I'm aware. I've heard that this is a defensive division and how competitive it is."