Bengals first-round pick returns to practice, hopes to play Sunday vs. Steelers

Wide receiver John Ross catches a pass during the first day of Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Friday, July 28 at the practice fields beside Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Wide receiver John Ross catches a pass during the first day of Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Friday, July 28 at the practice fields beside Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

After practicing for the first time since Sept. 20, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross said his knee felt great and that he believes he could play Sunday against Pittsburgh.

That decision, of course, is not Ross’ to make.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis made is clear last week that he needs to see more of Ross on the practice field before he considers making the first-round pick one of the 46 players who dress on Sunday.

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“He’s not been out with the football team enough,” Lewis said last Monday. “He needs a lot of time and a lot of practice. That’s important. That’s probably as important than getting back healthy where he can begin to practice football again. He needs that. We have to get back to that point first.”

The Bengals were not required to issue an official practice report Monday, but if they had Ross would have been listed as “limited.” He took part in position drills and some special teams work, but he said he didn’t do any 11 on 11 plays.

His availability for the Steelers will depend on how much work he is able to do later in the week.

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“If they give me the green light, I’m not going to say no,” Ross said. “I’m ready to do whatever they say. I’m just waiting on that call. It’s not what I have to say. I would have been out there two to three weeks ago. They know what they’re doing and I trust them.”

Ross’ sore left knee is the one he had ACL surgery on in 2015, but he said the current issue is not related.

“It has nothing to do with the ACL,” Ross said. “It’s nothing bad. That’s all I really care about.”

Ross injured the knee Aug. 31 in the preseason finale at Indianapolis. After sitting out the season opener, he returned for the Week 2 game against Houston and played just five snaps after losing a fumble on his first NFL snap.

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He practiced the following Wednesday, which is when he re aggravated the injury.

“I just think I was pushing it,” Ross said. “That’s probably a lot on my end, not communicating. I just wanted to get out there to try to prove myself. It’s a young mentality. Now I’m in a better state of mind and definitely treating it better as far as what I should be doing as opposed to what I think they want.”

Four of the six players who missed time with injuries in the 20-16 win against Buffalo on Oct. 8, were back at practice Monday — quarterback Andy Dalton (ankle), linebacker Vontaze Burfict (thumb), safety George Iloka (leg) and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder).

Cornerback Adam Jones (back) and wide receiver Tyler Boyd (knee) did not practice. Nor did H-back Ryan Hewitt, who injured his knee Oct. 1 at Cleveland, or safety Derron Smith, who has missed the last three games with an ankle injury.

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