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It’s time to get excited about John Ross again

Mr. 4.22 had a big play on Sunday that reminded everyone of what he’s capable of.

Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Remember John Ross? He is the speediest of the speedy receivers who was drafted No. 9 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Well, if you somehow didn’t remember who he was, he reminded everybody in Sunday’s preseason game against the Bills with this masterful 57-yard touchdown.

Ross’ speed here matters — he outpaced Bills defenders before Andy Dalton’s pass finally caught up as he slowed down and dropped into his hands. But it’s not the important part.

He also showed off his shiftiness. Because Dalton’s throw couldn’t keep up with Ross’ speed, he had to get creative to get those last 10 yards to get into the end zone.

So Ross decided to put defensive backs Jordan Poyer and Vontae Davis in a blender.

Ross used his creativity to get from this jam ...

... to this result.

Ross said after the game, “The finish was the best part so, for me to be able to go out there and do that is amazing [...] I kind of just wanted to make a quick move and see if it worked, and it did.”

I ... would also say that it worked. And hey, those ankle breakers aren’t exactly a rarity for Ross either. Adoree’ Jackson will tell you as much:

Jackson’s tweet right there says it all. When another player takes your ankles like that, you just have to laugh it off. There’s not many guys doing it with that kind of ferociousness.

Once upon a time, we were all aboard the John Ross Hype Train. He became Mr. 4.22 at the NFL Combine, breaking Chris Johnson’s 4.24-second 40 from the 2008 combine.

The hype died quickly, though. Ross was recovering from shoulder surgery when he joined the Bengals, and he suffered a knee sprain in the final game of the 2017 preseason. He was was inactive in Week 1 because of the sprain.

In Week 2, he made his debut, fumbling the ball on his first touch, and got benched. He would hurt his knee again in practice, and was done for the season without making a single catch.

Almost everything that happens in the preseason is met with something along the lines of “well, it’s just the preseason.” In a lot of cases, that’s a correct skepticism to have. In the case of John Ross, seeing anything is worth getting excited about, especially after his disappointing rookie season. But that excitement also has to do with the incredible potential that he has.

If Ross is able to contribute like this in 2018, that’s going to open things up for A.J. Green. Then, everything might come a little easier for the Bengals’ offense.

The story of John Ross III and his unprecedented speed