Ask any fan of the Kansas City Chiefs to describe the one player they are most excited to see in the team’s first exhibition game Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, I bet nearly unanimously it would be Wide Receiver, Justyn Ross.
Nearly 21 months ago, Clemson Wide Receiver, Justyn Ross played football. Multiple injuries derailed a promising NFL career, that would have certainly made him a Top 10 draft pick back in 2022.
However, that didn’t happen. As the draft unfolded, every NFL team passed on him including his current team, the Kansas City Chiefs. Ross though never wavered in his belief that he could be a star in the NFL. He had several teams interested in his services, but one stood out.
General Manager, Brett Veach, who has a knack for finding success with late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents, thought if healthy, Ross would be a great fit for Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. If anyone can bring out the NFL potential of Ross, it’s that combo.
Soon after the draft, Ross was signed, flew to Kansas City, and began working out with the Chiefs. However, in July, even though Ross showed flashes of his abilities, he and the Chiefs medical staff felt, he needed surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Thus, Ross had a red-shirt season with Kansas City.
In the early spring, videos started popping up showing Ross in great physical shape. He seemed to have that Clemson step and appeared to be pain-free from the medical chains that sidelined his NFL career.
However, the true test would be workouts in Texas with Patrick Mahomes. Round one of OTA’s usually begins with Mahomes private workouts with his receivers. Ross was one of them and he participated without injury.
When OTA’s picked up again in Kansas City, reports began to circulate that Ross was struggling to pick things up. At first, you’d think that is alarming, but let’s be honest, Ross hasn’t played competitive football, let alone gone through any form of practice since December of 2021.
Fast forward to training camp, and those that felt he was on the roster bubble, feel differently watching him run all over the field catching passes. It’s hard to pinpoint what the catalyst was for Ross to make the jump from OTA to training camp, but my guess was simply comfortability in the schemes.
Ross brings a dimension of speed, size, and unique pass-catching ability, Mahomes needs to execute KC’s offense to a new level of success Further, Mahomes must trust his receivers that they’ll adjust to his ad-lib scrambles. Thus far, Ross has been able to do just that.
Now before we get too deep in the hype, Ross must show he can make plays against other NFL teams. His first crack will be Sunday, August 13th at high noon against the New Orleans Saints. With the injury to wide receiver, Kadarius Toney, Ross should get plenty of reps in his first live-action in nearly two years.
If he can make a few plays against the Saints, and stay healthy, he has shot to become a true wild card in this offense. However, the Chiefs have had many training camp stars in the past, that struggled once the games were live. So let’s be cautious and hopeful, Ross can rise to the star level many felt he could achieve back in 2022.