Jeremy Ross: Cardinals 'Have Potential to Be Successful'
Jeremy Ross had no easy introduction to the NFL.
An undrafted free agent wide receiver out of Cal Berkeley, Ross was signed by the New England Patriots, but never quite found his footing with the franchise. In fact, it took stints with two teams and one year and five months time before being elevated to an active roster for the first time with the Green Bay Packers.
Ross would inevitably suit up for seven NFL franchises, with his last stop with the Arizona Cardinals. He was brought in mid-year in December of 2016. And although being an NFL journeyman is a tough, unpredictable road, a conversation with Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald helped put it in positive perspective.
"Larry was talking to me when I was with the Cardinals, he was asking me all these questions," Ross told SI.com's AllCardinals. "'What about this team? How'd you like it here? What was that coach like ? What were these players like?' He was asking me all these questions about the different cities, which made me think, 'Wow, you know what, he's been in Arizona his whole career.' I've been able to be fortunate to be able to bounce around to all these different teams. He was on one team for his whole career and I got the opportunity to be able to get to go to all these different cities, all these organizations, deal with all these different coaches and players. So, it made me grateful for that journey that I took to be able to experience all these different places and get to play and create bonds with a lot of different players that I've looked up to."
When Ross agreed to terms with the Cardinals, he said it had a majority to do with his comfort level with then-head coach Bruce Arians — whom he met while with the Indianapolis Colts — and several players he already knew.
Yet, there were other factors that he said made it feel different than his other stints.
"Arizona was great," Ross said. "(Quarterback) Carson Palmer was a phenomenal teammate. He really made me feel welcomed. Starting quarterbacks don't always take undrafted guys under their wing or really extend an invitation of welcome. He was like, 'Hey man, whatever you need let me know. Alright, you're going to be playing. Boom. Here, we got it, let's practice these routes after practice. We're going to get you going, we're going to make sure you're good. Alright, this is too difficult. Don't worry, I'm not going to run that. Don't worry.' He was very hands-on, but very welcoming for me and made me feel comfortable in the organization.
"Larry was great as well and he was a friend. He was just always trying to pull me into different things, which was great. And it was just a phenomenal experience, just to be able to be there with the guys and to work and perform and play. I liked it."
In two games as a member of the Cardinals (with one start), Ross had four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown (in the last game of the 2016 season against the Los Angeles Rams). The score was his first in a nearly two-year period, when he was a member of the Detroit Lions, and was commemorative of the hard work he put in throughout his NFL career.
"It was another similar situation, going into a team mid- to late-season, having to learn a playbook in a week and get going to be ready to play," Ross said. "The fact that I had a couple of catches that game and scored, it felt good. It always feels good to get in the end zone. But it just felt great, just being able to still go in and still perform and get a touchdown. It was a great feeling. In L.A., versus the Rams, that was pretty cool. It was a great way to cap off the year."
As for where the Cardinals stand now, Ross is optimistic in their trajectory. At the same time, he pulled the old football player cliche — using similar speech as many of the franchise's current players — in that teams are judged by performance on the field rather than statistics and projections.
"On paper they look really good," he said. "They have a lot of great weapons, those additions are going to help them out a lot. But, like any team, it's just a matter of them putting it together. You can have all the talent you want on a team, but you've still got to make it work. You've got to find a way to make it work. And I think they have a lot of potential to be successful this year and really do some good things in that (NFC West) division. It's just a matter of being able to put the pieces together. Do they gel well with each other? How is the offense going to coordinate? There's a lot of moving parts that have to be set and there's a lot uncertainty.
"There's been a lot of cases, not just with this team but teams in general, where they get loaded with players and you think they're going to have this phenomenal year because they have all these big names and then they're not successful. They have all the top players, so it's just a matter of, are they going to work well together? But they do have potential to be successful."