A return to his second home also served as something of an NFL coming-out party for John Ross.
A standout at the University of Washington and a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Ross entered Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Seahawks with just 210 yards in two professional seasons.
He almost matched that total Sunday, finishing with 158 yards on seven receptions in Seattle’s hard-fought 21-20 win.
His day included touchdowns of 33 and 55 yards in the first half, the latter coming on something of a Hail Mary toss from Andy Dalton that Ross plucked out of the air after Seattle safety Tedric Thompson mistimed his leap.
That TD came a play after Ross had a drop on a pass that might also have been a touchdown when he broke wide open after Seattle defenders Ugo Amadi and Bradley McDougald ran into each other, each falling to the ground.
“That’s something I’ve worked on — next-play mentality,’’ Ross said. “I think I’ve done a better job. Last year, year before, I went into a tank and would think about that for the rest of the game. Now I try to put it behind me and go make the next play.’’
It also all may just be a sign of maturity.
Despite being in his third NFL season, Ross is just 24 years old. His talent is undeniable. Now, he may be adding the mental approach to make the most of it.
Ross frankly admitted after the game that his confidence was an issue the last two season — he had 21 receptions on 58 targets for 210 yards last season, accounting for all the yards he had in his career prior to Sunday (he had no catches on two targets playing in just three games due to injury as a rookie).
“I can honestly say now I lost confidence in myself the last two years,’’ he said. “Now I come in with a different mentality and now I’ve got to go out there and continue to believe in myself.’’
In fact, it was reported a few months ago that the Bengals were willing to deal Ross, apparently finding no takers — or none that offered much of anything, anyway.
Sunday, though, he looked like maybe he’ll be a good fit in the offense of first-year coach Zac Taylor, a former assistant with the Rams who has brought a lot of Sean McVay-style touches to the Bengals.
“We have a ton of confidence in John,’’ Taylor said. “He made some big-time plays for us.’’
Veteran tight end Tyler Eifert said Ross’ game was no surprise to his teammates “because we watch him every day. Just the way he runs, he’s very talented. It’s just a matter of time before he can put it all together.’’
Ross said he wasn’t going to too excited about just one game, noting that he also had another drop in the game for two overall.
“I’m not going to go home and say, ‘Wow, what a job I did,’’’ he said. “That’s kind of selfish. I definitely would rather win than do what I did.’’
But he did take some satisfaction in being able to play well in a stadium he knew well.
Ross worked as a security guard at CenturyLink Field for a while during his years at Washington and said finally playing on the field “felt surreal.’’
“To be able to play here in font of some people who used to watch me in college it did feel good,’’ he said. “I’m thankful.’’