With wide receivers Tyler Boyd (knee) and Cody Core (concussion) declared out of Sunday's game against the Colts (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12), the odds are first-round pick John Ross (knee) is going to be active for second time in his career.
After Friday's walk-through head coach Marvin Lewis warned he could use just four wide receivers on the active list. But that's a longshot, which means both rookie wide outs are ticketed to be active with fourth-rounder Josh Malone expected to play in his second straight game.
Lewis sounded almost apologetic that he's been a bit dismissive of Ross, sidelined since he tweaked his knee six weeks ago in his NFL debut.
"That what I forget about," said Lewis of the man they picked ninth in the draft. "I just see him as another guy. In everybody else's mind, John's status is larger than it is in mine. You have to earn status."
But Lewis likes what he sees in two weeks of practice. He was listed as full practice every day this week after returning to practice in limited fashion last week.
"His confidence level is way better than it was," Lewis said. "He's been in the rigors of practice, the ups and downs. He's knocked down. He's got up. Every time he goes on the ground no one has to oooh and aaah. He actually falls down now, or gets knocked down, and gets back up. That's a good thing … The most important thing is he's physically and mentally up to it, which is good."
Ross says he's ready to play if the coaches will have him.
"It's on them," Ross said before heading out to the walk-through. "I don't want to assume or get my hopes up. I'm preparing like I'm going to go. If they do, then I'll be ready."
As the incumbent first-rounder, Ross has been the subject of scrutiny ever since he arrived with a rehabbing shoulder that prevented him from practicing until the second week of training camp and playing in the pre-season until the third game. He had another setback when he hurt his knee on a sweep in the pre-season finale and blame's youthful naiveté for trying to rush back.
So he's just as surprised as anyone else that he has yet to make his first NFL catch.
"Especially because of injury," Ross said, "since I had nothing last year except for the shoulder and I played through that (before having surgery)."
Ross says offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's entire playbook is at his disposal and that if he plays he won't be reduced to just playing in certain packages.
"Same as every player," Ross said. "I'm always in the meetings. I prepare like I'm going to play. Coach Lazor does a good job with everybody getting the playbook out and showing us what we're going to see this week adding things and taking things away."
Lewis considers Ross in week one while virtually everybody else is in week eight. Probably why Lewis has him at low status is because he's barely practiced against the defense.
"As far as honing your craft, you have to practice against the other side of the ball," Lewis said. "Now you're getting live replicated reps when he didn't have that. That's a lot of snaps lost. Figure if he had a third of the snaps in training camp and third of the snaps in OTAs, that's about 600 snaps … Then during the season it's about 60-70 snaps on both sides of the ball each day."
But it sounds like they're ready if Ross is ready and vice versa.
When specials team coordinator Darrin Simmons over heard the media on Friday asking Lewis' weekly Marvcast on Ross, Simmons piped in, "Windy."
"See?" Lewis asked with a laugh. "It could be sunny or it could be partly cloudy."
For now, it sounds like the game is on.