Around the AFC North: John Ross Returns to Camp After Son's Bout With COVID-19

082420-AFC-North
Bengals WR John Ross

Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross Rejoins Camp After Son's Health Scare

This has been a difficult month for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross, but he returned to practice Sunday feeling better about his son's health situation.

Ross left training camp and went to California after learning that his 3-year-old son and the child's mother had both tested positive for COVID-19. Both were symptomatic when they were initially diagnosed, but their condition has improved. Ross rejoined the team Aug. 20 and returned to the practice field Sunday.

When Ross first got word that his son was sick, he didn't hesitate to leave camp.

"There was no chance of me staying," Ross said via ESPN.com. "With all due respect to anything, I'm a father first."

Relieved that his son is doing better, Ross feels ready to prove his worth during a contract year. The first-round pick in 2016 has been plagued by injuries and missed eight games last season. However, Ross was explosive when he played with 28 catches for 506 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 18.1 yards per catch.

He hopes to be a consistent weapon for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who has thrown the ball well in camp. Burrow showed no sign of being nervous during his first scrimmage, going 6-for-6 and leading the Bengals on a touchdown drive.

Ross thinks the future is bright in Cincinnati and he wants to have a healthy season to convince the Bengals they should re-sign him.

"It's on me to show them why I should be here longer," Ross said. "That's how I look at it."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Eric Ebron's Addition Could Increase Usage of Tight Ends

With Ben Roethlisberger back in action for the Steelers, their offense is expected to improve significantly over last season. One of their new weapons is tight end Eric Ebron, who was acquired during free agency. Ebron is only 27 years old and not far removed from his best season in 2018 when he caught 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Indianapolis Colts.

Ebron had terrific chemistry with Andrew Luck in 2018 and he believes that will be rekindled with Roethlisberger.

"I'm just here to be another chess piece," Ebron said via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I feel like I pose a threat in the middle of the field that will help our receivers get one-on-one coverage."

The Steelers envision pairing Ebron with Vance McDonald to run more two tight end sets. Ebron believes the combination will make it easier for the Steelers to create mismatches and for Roethlisberger to identify them.

"With a veteran quarterback like Ben who has seen it all, it helps with his clarity," Ebron said. "Two tight ends sets are dominant if you have two really good tight ends, and I believe we do. I look forward to making Ben's job a lot easier."

Cleveland Browns: Malcolm Smith Signed to Beef Up Linebacker Group

The Browns hope a former Super Bowl MVP has enough left in the tank to help their defense.

Cleveland signed linebacker Malcolm Smith Sunday, a player best known for being the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII for the Seattle Seahawks when he had 10 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a pick-six during a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos.

Cleveland starting linebacker Mack Wilson hyperextended his knee during training camp, and is expected to miss time even if he does not require surgery, according to Jake Trotter of ESPN.

Smith played with both the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars last season, appearing in two games for each team. He hasn't been a starter since 2016, but the Browns may have to depend on Smith until Wilson returns.

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