A.J. Green: John Ross 'healthy and explosive again'

Coach Marvin Lewis recently balked at the idea that John Ross was a draft "miss" after a nightmare rookie season which came and went without a single catch.

Lewis isn't alone in his belief that Ross is poised for a breakout campaign now that he's spending more time on the field than in the trainer's room.

Ross' offseason work with former Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh has Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green raving about last year's No. 9 overall draft pick.

"He's got his confidence back," Green told The Sporting News. "The way he's working this offseason is unbelievable. He's healthy and explosive again."

Ross started his career behind the eight ball, missing Cincinnati's entire offseason program and the majority of training camp following shoulder surgery. Any slim chance of joining the Week 1 receiver rotation was eliminated when he injured his knee in the preseason finale.

His few opportunities at playing time over the season's first three months were sabotaged by rookie mistakes such as fumbling and quitting on a route. Before he worked his way out of the doghouse, his season was ended by an injury that required surgery to the other shoulder.

In other words, Murphy's law had Ross in the crosshairs from the moment he broke Chris Johnson's combine record in the 40-yard dash.

As Ross insisted earlier this offseason, though, this is a new year with "a lot of new things coming." One of those new things involves working on his craft with Houshmandzadeh, one of the premier route runners of his generation.

"You get to this level, everybody can run," Houshmandzadeh said of Ross last month. "Your technique and ability to separate has to come to the forefront because you can't beat everybody with speed."

In Ross and oft-injured tight end Tyler Eifert, the Bengals have a pair of intriguing wild cards with the tantalizing talent to make or break Andy Dalton's season.

Will a healthy, improved Ross unseat Brandon LaFell or Tyler Boyd for a rotation spot alongside Green?

"If he's working with me," Houshmandzadeh vowed, "bet your house on him."

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