During the offseason, it seemed like every social media timeline was littered with highlights of Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver Justyn Ross. Now that the bullets are live, however, Ross has had only limited opportunities to make an impact, getting more than single-digit snaps in just one of this season’s games — and most of those were in the fourth quarter of a Kansas City blowout.
Asked about Ross’ usage on Tuesday, head coach Andy Reid preferred to speak in generalities.
“The young guys seem to be getting better every day they have a chance,” he offered. “It’s just a matter of experience — and there’s one way of getting that: getting tossed in there and seeing how you do.”
While Reid acknowledged that Ross has put in a few reps he’d like to have back, the second-year wideout is still improving.
“Hopefully, he grows from that,” said Reid, “and keeps progressing like he has been.”
After spending his first Kansas City season on the Reserve/Injured list, the former Clemson wideout is working on understanding everything around him.
“It’s basically just understanding more than the scheme,” he noted. “Understanding the defense’s understanding — like, ‘Why is he here? And why is he [there]?’ Just understanding everything that goes on in the field.”
But there’s one thing he already understands: it will take some time to get comfortable with all of it.
“It’s gonna come as time goes,” he said. “I mean, just with more experience — and just seeing everything play out as fast as it does on the field. I feel like it’s going to get easier as time goes.”
During Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Ross had just six snaps. In those, quarterback Patrick Mahomes targeted him four times. While Ross caught two of those (for 28 yards) he dropped the other two.
“I left a lot out there that I know I’ve got to clean up this week,” he said. “I feel like I feel like I could have played a lot better.”
And while acknowledging that the drops — especially in critical situations — have to go, he feels confident about it.
“That’s always been my mindset — [to] just go on to the next play every time,” he explained. “You can’t dwell on [it]; you can’t have it back. So I mean, all you can do is go on about it. That’s never been hard for me to clean up.”
But on Sunday, Ross also made what could be the best catch by any Chiefs receiver this season, beating Vikings corner Mekhi Blackmon over the top for a 20-yard gain.
“It was something we had drawn up all week,” Ross recalled. “Coach let me know that it was my play to have. I just felt like I had to win quick. Pat put it up there — and I just went and got it.”
Five wide. The #Chiefs motion Toney away from Justyn Ross allowing him to have the entire left side of the dance floor to himself and also pulling the safety away from over the top. Mahomes able to hit Ross on the vertical. pic.twitter.com/osYGKsRUKc— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) October 10, 2023
The Chiefs will host the 1-4 Denver Broncos on this week’s “Thursday Night Football” — and although this might be the worst Broncos team since they went 2-11-1 in 1964, Ross said that Kansas City’s 15-game winning streak against Denver is not on his mind.
“I mean, we’ve gotta come in ready to play,” he declared. “Those are the games that you kinda wanna have — going through your weeks — so I feel like for a divisional opponent, we’ve got to come in on something different.”
“You never take an opponent lightly,” he reiterated. “You never know what they could have going on that day. They come in on this game fired up [and] ready to go. So I feel like we’ve just gotta play everybody the same — [and] take everybody the hard way.”
But however this game — or any other game — ultimately plays out, Ross is ready.
“I’m here whenever they call my name,” he said. “Whenever my number is called, I’m ready to make a play.”