GREEN BAY – After three weeks of inconsistent work on returns – and a costly muff of a kickoff to set up the Cincinnati Bengals’ second touchdown during Sunday’s 34-30 loss at Paul Brown Stadium – wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Ross is no longer a member of the Green Bay Packers.
The team announced Monday afternoon that Ross had been released, roughly 24 hours after his fumble put the Packers in a 14-0 hole against the Bengals. The Packers rebounded to reel of 30 straight points to take a 30-14 lead before collapsing.
“I was 5 yards deep, the wind started picking up, the ball was kicked and it was high, and I tried to run up on it but it was just dropping. So I tried to catch it before it hit,” Ross explained after the game. “It’s just one of those things.”
After fumbling an ill-conceived throwback lateral from Randall Cobb on a punt return at Chicago last Dec. 16, Ross had a 58-yard punt return in the Packers’ Dec. 23 victory over Tennessee, then had a 44-yard kickoff return and a 32-yard punt return against Minnesota in the regular-season finale on Dec. 30. His emergence late in the regular season led coach Mike McCarthy to put him on kickoff returns in the NFC Wild Card game against the Vikings before handling both jobs against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs – until Ross’ infamous fumble, which landed him on the bench.
The fumble gave the 49ers the ball at the Green Bay 9-yard line – setting up a touchdown that tied the game at 14-14 – and swung the momentum in what turned out to be a 45-31 loss. Cobb took over returns after that and actually muffed a pair of kickoffs, so Ross wasn’t alone in his mistakes. Then again, his lost possession for the Packers and was a major factor in them losing the game.
Nevertheless, the Packers kept Ross at the final cutdown at the end of training camp, but on six kickoff returns this season, he was averaging a horrendous 12.5 yards per return. On punts, Ross averaged 10 yards on two returns, with two fair catches.
“I think it says a lot about our team – we’re fighters. We’re not going to give up,” Ross said after the game when asked about how the team responded to the poor start and injuries. “We have two losses right now, and we have a tough schedule coming up, but what I can take from the loss is that we’re fighters, and we’re going to need to be fighters all season. Every game, we’re going to have to come to play. I think this prepares us for adversity. That way, when it happens again, we know what it feels like to be down, we know what it feels like to have bad plays and missed opportunities, but we’ll know how to bounce back and we’ll know we’re capable of bouncing back.”
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