The injury bug continues to make its way around the New York Giants‘ receiver room, and John Ross is its latest victim. The speedster has been placed on injured reserve with a lingering hamstring injury that he battled throughout the better part of August. The move strips Big Blue of his services for at least the first three games of the regular season.
The No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Ross was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal by the Giants this offseason after a rather rocky four-year run in Cincinnati. The hope was that Ross and his blazing 4.22-speed could help stretch the field in East Rutherford. However, his hamstring injury has mostly grounded him since arriving in town. Ross failed to log a single snap in the preseason. Still, he expects to factor in as the team’s fourth/fifth receiver when healthy, behind Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and (maybe) Kadarius Toney.
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Rookie Elerson Smith to IR
Joining Ross on injured reserve is rookie pass rusher Elerson Smith, who is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury of his own. Smith was drafted in the fourth round of this past April’s NFL Draft and was even lauded as the “best Day 3 pick” league-wide by Ourlads scout David Syvertsen. However, injuries have greatly hampered Smith early on. Similar to Ross, Smith also failed to appear in any of the team’s three preseason games. When healthy, he’ll look to add some depth and pop off the edge working alongside Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines and fellow rookie Azeez Ojulari.
The earliest Ross and Smith will be eligible to return to game action will be in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints.
Corresponding Roster Moves
Replacing Ross and Smith on the active roster will be two familiar faces. Long snapper Casey Kreiter and wide receiver C.J. Board have both been re-signed.
Kreiter, a Pro Bowler in 2018 with the Denver Broncos, failed to make the Giants’ initial 53-man roster on cut day. However, his vacancy came with an asterisk, as the team’s official website noted that he would be re-signed. The move makes Kreiter the lone long-snapper on the roster for the second consecutive season. In 2020, the Iowa product appeared in all 16 games with the Giants, logging 127 special teams snaps (31%). Kreiter has not missed a game in the past four seasons.
Unlike Kreiter, Board actually made the initial 53-man roster but had his contract terminated shortly after in a procedural move. Claimed off of waivers in August of last year, the former undrafted free agent appeared in 14 games (four starts) with the Giants in 2020, setting career highs across the board, including receptions (11) and yards (101). He also got his feet wet on special teams, playing 81 snaps and serving as a returner in spot duty. Board returned one punt for six yards and two kicks for 54 yards — an average of 27.0 yards per return.
Board is expected to push for more looks in the return game this season and flashed his game-breaking potential in the preseason opener against the Jets. Per Next Gen Stats, the former Jacksonville Jaguar clocked in at 19.29 MPH on a 20-yard return, good enough for the fifth-fastest kick returner of the week.