By Jason Turner
Outside linebacker Adrian Ross will be the first to tell you that his skills on the football field are far greater than that on the slopes.
"I like to go back to Colorado during the off-season and relax in the mountains, but I'm still afraid to go skiing," he said.
But Ross has shown no fear in his football career, earning a spot on the Colorado State roster as a walk-on in 1993, and making the Bengals as a rookie free agent in 1998.
By the end of his college career, he walked away with 25 consecutive starts and a No. 5 ranking on the school's all-time sacks list. With the Bengals, Ross has played in 30 games over two seasons with 11 starts.
Ross credits his success to hard work and perseverance.
"I just tried to make the most of my opportunities and I tried to make somebody see me," he said. "I wanted to keep making plays and stay versatile."
Ross tallied 15 tackles and one sack at right outside linebacker in 1999, starting the first ten games at the position. He lost his starting job when the team switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive scheme, adding a defensive lineman and subtracting one linebacker.
But Ross has proven himself to be a versatile contributor regardless of whether he is starting. He also registered nine tackles on the kick coverage teams in 1999, and is expected to fill a number of positions this season, including a rush player in dime and nickel packages.
"Adrian wears a lot of positions and responsibilities," linebackers coach Mark Duffner said. "He's capable of doing a lot because of his attitude, being a very hungry player, and the fact that he's intelligent."
Ross says that with the construction of Paul Brown Stadium and a positive team attitude throughout mini-camp thus far, Bengals fans can expect a strong showing from the team week after week.
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"The structure of camp so far is really nice," Ross said. "It's a good time for rookies to come in and get a jump start on learning plays, and to get comfortable with offense and defense."
Ross made headlines with his hair in 1999 training camp, showing up with a long Afro style which had been dyed to resemble Bengal tiger stripes. He did it, he said, just as a show of team spirit. As far as his hair style for 2000 camp is concerned, Ross said that he has different ideas but hasn't made up his mind yet.
"Adrian is one of the funniest players on the team," says Duffner . "He has an engaging personality, and his stripes were a team thing. He is a team oriented guy all the way."