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Quick Hits: With Son Safe, Ross Back To Football; Defense Puts Heat On Burrow  

John Ross, seen here two weeks ago, was back on the field Sunday.
John Ross, seen here two weeks ago, was back on the field Sunday.

John Ross, father of a three-year-old son first and Bengals wide receiver second, returned to the practice field Sunday morning from a week-long hiatus that took him home to California to care for his son and the son's mother as they battled Covid-19.

A grateful Ross reported after practice that everyone is fine after a tough visit he couldn't hold his son and ended up doing his running while the family slept. Which is why he found himself in a park at 2 a.m.

"When it comes to my son, I would say it definitely wasn't stressful. It doesn't matter, I was willing to risk anything," Ross said. "It didn't matter to me, none of that mattered. I just wanted to see him get well. That was the most important part. The stressful part was me having to wear a mask, not being able to hold him, kiss him and let him know that I'm here for him. Just not being able to physically touch him and things like that."

Ross resumes what had been a promising training camp that began with the consensus that it is the best he's looked since they took him in the first round in 2017. And he knows what's on the line after three seasons he limped through one of them and spent significant time on injured reserve during the other two. The Bengals didn't exercise their fifth-year option, so he's suddenly in his contract year with barely 1,000 NFL snaps.

"I wouldn't have picked up my option, either," Ross said. "It guarantees injury if you get hurt. I've been injured every single year. That's not a bad decision by them. And now it's on me to show them why I should be here longer. That's how I look at it."

They're going easy with Ross. He looked really good running routes on air Sunday, but they chose to leave him out of one-on-one and 11-on-11 against the defense …

Ross had to test before leaving California as well as string together three consecutive negative Covid tests in team testing in order to get back into the facility …

About 48 hours after the offense handed it to them pretty good in Friday's first scrimmage of the season, the defense rebounded by handling Sunday's practice.

The defenders got good pressure, as well as two tipped balls from the line, (one led to an interception by CFL cornerback Winston Rose) to frustrate rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow looked invincible the previous two days. But a busy pocket makes anyone look earthly. Plus, it looked like a run-heavy practice. Still, the defense didn't allow touchdowns in 11-on-11 or the two-minute drill, although Burrow did throw a lovely ball to wide receiver Alex Erickson down the right sideline that would have gone for a bunch …

On his first throw of team Burrow overthrew wide receiver Tyler Boyd chucking off his back foot. He didn't get another chance to throw in the period because right end Sam Hubbard pushed tight end C.J. Uzomah near him and he took off.

Seven-on-seven in the red zone was more productive, but still only 6-for-10 and got picked off when Uzomah appeared to hold up on a route near the goal line and Burrow threw it right to cornerback LeShaun Sims.

(But Uzomah and the other tight end, Drew Sample) are having among the best camps.)

Burrow had a touchdown when he went to rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins on the back line in the red zone. Burrow put it only where Higgins could get it, but veteran cornerback Greg Mabin was able to push him out.

"I was too close to the end line in the end zone," Higgins said. "I've just got to work my route better and make sure I have room." ….

Burrow had two two-minute drills, but needed field goals of 41 and 52 yards from Randy Bullock.

He started off with a 15-yard throw to wide receiver Mike Thomas down the sideline, but the defense thought the play should have been blown dead because of the pressure applied by the No. 1 defensive line on the No. 1 offensive line. It held up, yet on the next play end Carlos Dunlap promptly roamed to the right perimeter and was all alone on running back Giovani Bernard to blow up a sweep and when Burrow got chased out of the pocket on a rush up the middle on the next snap, they called on Bullock …

Dunlap started the second and final two-minute drill by beating left tackle Jonah Williams for a tap-No. 9-on-the-back sack.

Burrow got some of it back on a ball over the middle to Boyd, but Thomas false started and the snap chased him out of the pocket and Bullock bombed it from 52 …

Rose and Sims got their hands on some other passes to go along with their picks …Mabin got kudos for that nice play on Higgins on a snap or two after Erickson had him beat to the corner in red zone and Burrow slightly overthrew it ….Another red zone drill, another touchdown fade from Burrow to wide receiver Auden Tate.

"The man's a dog," Higgins said of Tate's monstrous camp. "I always knew it since he was at Florida State. He's a guy that's going to go out there and play with grit no matter what, and he can climb the ladder, as y'all can see. He catches everything. " …

Despite Sunday's pressure, they've been very high on the production of the offensive tackles during this camp, Williams on the left and Bobby Hart on the right … They think Hart has come back playing more aggressively and has shown improvement. But the guy who has improved the most from last year to this year up front, they think, just may be sophomore left guard Michael Jordan...

Although pass protection didn't appear to be as stalwart as last week, running backs Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard ripped off some good chunks …

As expected the Bengals put nose tackle Renell Wren (quad) on what appears to be season-ending injured reserve.

Rookie wide receiver Scotty Washington and rookie defensive end Khalid Kareem ended their rehab stints and were on the field Sunday …

They don't make hernias like they used to. Or maybe it's because Bengals assistant offensive line coach Ben Martin is a true grinder. Three days after hernia surgery Martin was back out there again Sunday morning for practice jetting around on a scooter. Except on Sunday the scooter had a craftily-crafted Ohio license plate that read "BEN KARTIN."

Even Martin had to admit, "Pretty good. That's OK. I'm a camaraderie guy."

Rounding up the usual suspects had to begin with offensive line coach Jim Turner, but Martin wasn't buying it."

"I doubt it," Martin said. "He can barely hit 'Print.'"