Among those who had to have been pleased to see Cincinnati receiver John Ross on the other end of a 57-yard touchdown bomb in Sunday’s preseason game against Buffalo was someone who himself once caught passes for the Bengals.
But T.J. Houshmandzadeh wasn’t merely happy for a member for the team on which he spent eight of his 11 NFL seasons. His reaction was more along the lines of a teacher seeing a student apply what he learned.
Houshmandzadeh spent part of the offseason working with Ross, who was a major disappointment as a rookie last year, and was encouraged by the progress he had seen before Sunday.
“He’s improved,” Houshmandzadeh, an NFL analyst for FS1, told Vic Carucci and Dan Leberfeld on Press Coverage. “He sent me some (video) clips of himself and I critiqued them. He’s improved, so I look for him to have a pretty good year.
‘He wasn’t healthy, number one’
“He wasn’t healthy (last season), number one. Number two, coaches are human, so the first time he touched the ball, he fumbled, and so that made them a little leery getting him back into the game. ‘You’re not healthy and then we give you the ball, you cough it up.’”
Based on what he saw in 2017 and when he began working with Ross, Houshmandzadeh wasn’t the least bit surprised by Ross’ struggles as a rookie.
‘You have to be able to decelerate and create separation’
“He just wasn’t ready to play the NFL game,” Houshmandzadeh said. “And I don’t care how fast you are. To me, the biggest attribute a receiver needs to have, number one you’ve got to catch the ball and be tough and have just toughness. But you have to be able to decelerate and create separation. And because of his speed, he hadn’t really had to use that trait and learn it. So that was pretty much all we worked on, was learning how to decelerate, learn how to stop, learn how to get out of your break.
“And, honestly, we didn’t even have enough time because you take into account his other workouts, his strength and conditioning, his speed work he’s doing. I believe he will (improve), but this offseason after his season will be important because we’ll spend more time right away.”
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