After weeks flying in a holding pattern, Jeremy Ross took a significant step in landing a job with the Green Bay Packers during Thursday night’s 30-8 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The game result wasn’t what the 25-year-old receiver had in mind and still hasn’t afforded himself any certain level of comfort with roster cuts due in less than two days, but he produced his most complete effort of the preseason when it mattered most.
Equipped with the talent you’d expect of a budding star on kickoff and punt returns, Ross’ moxie was questioned after a sour ending to his month-long audition for the Green Bay Packers in 2012 and inconsistent play during his first camp with the organization.
After being in the vicinity of several momentum-changing interceptions and a few dropped balls, the 25-year-old Ross led the Packers with three catches for 50 yards in Thursday night’s 30-8 loss to Kansas City.
Infamously known for the muffed punt return in last January’s 45-31 loss to San Francisco in the NFC divisional playoffs, the performance appeared to go a long way toward Ross locking down the fifth receiving spot and earning his chance at redemption.
After registering four catches for 20 yards in three games, Ross said he and Packers receivers coach Edgar Bennett began setting up extra meeting time to discuss his issues.
“There was a little slump where there was a lack of focus when I was out there,” Ross said. “At receiver, there are some specific things you have to do when you’re out there. The times when I wasn’t consistent was when I’d either be too zoned in and not think about the amount of responsibilities and coverages, and adjustments.
I’d get locked into one thing and end up making a mistake. I felt towards the end of camp I stopped doing that because I’m meeting extra with E.B. Meeting extra with him has helped out a lot to really get the details down and constantly think about it.”
The key for Ross was not letting his emotions get the best of him during the low points and focusing more on becoming a more complete player, an edict often echoed by both Packers coach Mike McCarthy and special-teams coach Shawn Slocum over the past month.
If Ross makes the 53-man roster, his primary job description likely would have more to do with special-teams and return units where the Packers have been trying to supplant third-year receiver Randall Cobb.
Against Kansas City, the Packers took long looks at both running back Alex Green and cornerback Micah Hyde on kickoff and punt returns, respectively, but Ross has still been the most dynamic candidate for both roles.
Whatever the coaches have planned doesn’t matter at this point. Ross just wants to make the team with the league’s mandatory roster reduction to 53 players due by Saturday evening.
“As far as what the coaches are planning on doing, I’m not sure,” Ross said. “If that’s the job they want to give me, I’m all for it and I’m ready.”
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