No. 1 pick John Ross is back in the house for the Bengals' three-day mandatory minicamp after spending the past month preparing for last Saturday's graduation from the University of Washington. He can still feel the emotion of it as the first member of his family to get a college degree.
"I woke up that day and I wasn't that excited. My brother said, 'I'm more excited than you,"' Ross said. "Then I got to the stadium and saw the other students and I said, 'I'm really graduating.' The other students wanted to take pictures with me. I was taking pictures with anybody and everyone. I had an amazing day."
Ross is rehabbing his shoulder and won't catch balls this week. But he says he can run now and run routes after he walked through routes last month.
"I'm just waiting on the plan right now. What they have ready and feeling everything out," Ross said. "I can run now. If it was up to me I'd be there catching. It's tough when you feel good and you're not good. I learned that a long time ago."
Ross, who majored in American Ethnic Studies, hosted his parents in Seattle for his graduation after they drove 16 hours from California.
"It was probably bigger than getting drafted in my opinion, just because I feel like it's something that can't be taken away from you," Ross said. "It was something for my family. I was the first generation to graduate in my family so it was pretty big for me and everybody. I've been playing football all my life and you never know what can happen with that, but with school it's more of an effort thing. It's something that's easier to come by than anything, but it's also not easy if that makes any sense."
Ross got on a plane Sunday for this camp and admitted he had a tough time without football while trying to finish off the degree.
'Honestly, to finally be done with school, it's like I can take a deep breath and relax," Ross said. "Instead of writing a paper, I can look at my playbook for extra hours. I had a 10-page paper and a seven-page paper due last week. Just to be on a plane doing that, get off a plane, do another paper and have to study for finals, it was just so much. It was lot on my plate."
For the record that last paper was devoted to how the current migration of Asian-Americans has been affected by the previous generation's experiences. Now he has to catch up on his wide receiver patterns.
"I can look at the play book all day long," Ross said. "But if it's not explained to me how they want it, it is totally different." ...
No. 2 pick Joe Mixon got the tip of the hat from head coach Marvin Lewis. He said at the rookie minicamp that the Oklahoma running back needed to work on his conditioning and Mixon says he's dropped ten pounds to get to 229.
"I've never been that big. Honestly I was just working out hard and lifting heavy, so I started bulking up," Mixon said before Tuesday's practice. "Once I started running a lot, I started trimming down. At the end of the day, it's all football. Lifting and all that stuff is good, but if you (don't have) it on the field, all that other stuff doesn't matter.
"I want to play about 223-228, 230 at the most. Be enough of a load but still be fast. I'll find a happy medium. Once I figure that out we'll go from there. Right now I feel great."
Mixon said he cut out bread and just put in the miles, mainly a lot of sets of 100-yards sprints.
Rookie center J.J. Dielman, a fifth-rounder out of Utah who has been sidelined since midseason with a foot injury, says he'll be cleared for the start of training camp. They've kept him out of live scrimmages, but he has been doing individual drills at center and guard and thinks he can play every line position. He played them all at Utah and says the adjustment from center to guard (where he played as a freshman) isn't as drastic as the move from tackle to center, which he did his senior year when he played center for the first time after playing tackle as a junior.
His favorite spot is center and he admits he wonders how good he can be if he got drafted after playing it for only a year.
"I might be really good. We'll see," Dielman said. "I wouldn't say you run the show (at center), but you definitely have a little more control. It's just not physical like at guard and tackle. You have the mental part as well." ....
Those who still rehabbing and not in practice but looking ready for training camp at some point besides Ross and Dielman are running back Giovani Bernard (ACL) and tight end Tyler Eifert (back), as well as rookie safety Brandon Wilson (knee).
Cincinnati Bengals host Minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium.