Now, he's learning alongside the Green Bay Packers' sage Pro Bowl cornerback.
"He's a good teacher," Ross, an undrafted rookie cornerback out of Youngstown State, said after Saturday night's abbreviated Family Night scrimmage. "He teaches the whole corps something different as far as technique or breaking or route-reading or reading the quarterback. He's a great player but he's also a great teacher."
Apparently, Ross takes to coaching very well, whether it's from Woodson or position coach Joe Whitt. On the first play of the scrimmage, he intercepted Aaron Rodgers' pass to James Jones and went the other way for a touchdown.
"Coach Whitt said during the meeting that someone has to make a play to move up on the depth chart, so that was my goal for the scrimmage," Ross said to much hooting and hollering in the "Green Mile," the auxiliary locker room where the Packers' late-round and undrafted free agents get suited up. "I had to get it done early."
Ross got it done as early as possible. Before the snap, he saw Rodgers and Jones exchanging some nonverbal communication. Figuring the veteran combination would go after the rookie, Ross showed some guts by jumping the route.
"That was great," Ross said. "Just picking off a Super Bowl MVP, not too many people can say they did that."
Ross had a pre-draft visit with the Packers (and was one of our 50-plus draft exclusives). As a sophomore, he was an honorable mention on the all-Missouri Valley Conference team as a safety. As a junior, he was moved to cornerback. In his two seasons starting at corner, he picked off five passes and was named an all-conference second-teamer as a senior.
The Packers use most of their pre-draft invites as a recruiting tool, and Ross embraced their sales pitch. According to his agent, Chris Cabott, eight teams inquired about signing Ross when undrafted free agency began late last month.
"They showed the most interest as far as pre-draft," Ross said. "Just the atmosphere when I came on my visit here as far as the coaching staff, great people, really great team. It's like a family around here. I like it."
Ross was — and probably remains — a bit of a long shot to make the team. Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields — a long shot himself at this time last year — are the undisputed top three corners. Fourth-round pick Davon House has done nothing but impress and veteran Jarrett Bush probably is a lock to make the roster because of his value on special teams.
The Packers kept six corners last year, with Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood joining Woodson, Williams, Shields and Bush. With Underwood having moved to safety, the sixth corner will be decided between Lee, Ross and first-year player Josh Gordy (practice squad last year). Neither Lee nor Gordy have impressed during camp, but Lee played a solid second half in the Super Bowl and is a proven player on special teams.
Regardless, one gutsy play in the scrimmage certainly opened some eyes, and Ross has to be considered a serious contender now.
After his interception, Rodgers — coincidentally or not — went after Ross. Jordy Nelson had Ross beaten deep but the ball was underthrown slightly, allowing Ross to recover to break it up. On the next play, Rodgers went deep again, with Ross falling and Randall Cobb hauling in a 40-yard gain. On the offense's only touchdown drive, Jones got free for a 21-yard completion against Ross.
"The one down the sideline to Randall Cobb, I thought I had that one, too, but I sort of lost my feet," Ross said. "I already knew that (Rodgers would target him) after I picked him. That's a pride thing. A quarterback's going to keep going at you until he beats you. I was expecting that."
Ross said he's keeping his head above water as the defensive playbook is being thrown at the players in rapid-fire fashion because of the lockout. The challenge has been the jump in competition. You won't find any Greg Jennings or Donald Drivers suited up at South Dakota State or Central Connecticut.
"It's kind of difficult because the receivers are bigger, faster, stronger, and you have to adapt to that," Ross said. "But I'm doing pretty good."
He certainly was on Saturday.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.