COORDINATOR CUT-UP

COORDINATOR CUT-UP: Jeremy Ross' season of redemption continues

Posted Dec 10, 2013

Special teams coordinator John Bonamego explains why Jeremy Ross has been so good as a return man this year

Jeremy RossJeremy Ross returned both a kick and punt for touchdowns Sunday at Philadelphia. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

It's been quite the journey for receiver/kick returner Jeremy Ross the last few months.

  • Ross was released by the Packers on Sept. 23 after fumbling in a loss to Cincinnati.
  • He was signed by the Lions and assigned to their practice squad on Oct. 7.
  • The team promoted him to the active roster on Oct. 19.

In a little over three months, Ross went from unemployed to practice squad player to little-used receiver and now potentially the NFL's Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance Sunday in Philadelphia.

Ross accounted for all the Lions' points in the second half, returning a punt 58 yards and a kickoff 98 yards for touchdowns in a 34-20 loss to the Eagles.

Ross joins Eddie Payton as the only players in team history to have kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns in the same game. Payton did it in 1977 in a loss to the Vikings.

"One of the first things I said to him when he walked in the door was, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure,'" special teams coordinator John Bonamego told detroitlions.com.

"Obviously, it's been documented he was released in Green Bay, but I think the thing I've been impressed about with him is that I don't think he's made excuses for his past. I think he's embraced it and has tried to work on the parts of his game to make himself a better player."

That has included staying after practice to field footballs from the jugs machine and sitting in Bonamego's office going over film. All done in an effort to try and earn both his coaches' and his teammates' trust.

Is there anyone who doesn't trust him now?

"As good as he's been, I think he can still get better," Bonamego said. "He has done a really good job of staying with the plan. He understands where the blocks are supposed to happen. He can see the field.

"He also has a dimension on power. He's a bigger guy and thicker through the legs. He's a determined runner. He doesn't go down easily. He can run through some arm tackles and is elusive enough to make that first guy miss and get it started."

Ross has been a spark for the Lions special teams ever since he took over the team's primary return duties, first in the Dallas game, and then full-time vs. Tampa Bay.

His first game in that role against Dallas, Ross recorded a 44-yard kickoff return. He had a 42-yard punt return against Tampa Bay, a 35-yard punt return against Green Bay on Thanksgiving and then exploded Sunday vs. the Eagles.

"I mean, it's definitely special," Ross said in the locker room after Sunday's loss. "It's special to do something like that. I'm definitely grateful. Thank God for opening up those doors and allowing me to do what I did today.

"I'm not too familiar with the history of the franchise and what people have done, but it's definitely an honor to be able to do something like that and be on that level. It's bittersweet. The win would have been great."

Ross' story is one about redemption. Proving he belongs and that second chances are worth something.