Tough and Smart, Ross Wins Job

Think Brandian Ross was a surprise to make the 53-man roster? Then you weren't paying attention. Ross, an undrafted rookie out of Youngstown State in 2011, was quietly good all summer. "Is he good enough to win with? Yes," said cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt.

When the Green Bay Packers selected their 53-man roster and it included cornerback Brandian Ross, some eyebrows were raised by casual observers.

Ross, however, had a good camp and has off-the-charts intangibles.

"I just found this out: The kid scored a 32 on the ACT," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt told Packer Report on Tuesday, two days before the Packers' preseason victory over Kansas City and three days before cutdown Friday. "He's very smart. We talked about that this morning. I knew he was smart before that but, I was like, wow. He's a smart man. He's a tough guy. He doesn't make mistakes. He can get the ball. He has the ability to make plays. He's just a solid player.

"Is he good enough to win with? Yes, he is. If it's here or somewhere else, he's a quality player."

Ross made a big play on the first snap of Family Night in 2011 with a pick-six against Aaron Rodgers. Ross has been mostly quiet in the 13 months since. He spent last season on the practice squad and had a quiet camp this summer. At cornerback, quiet isn't a bad thing.

Still, Ross, an undrafted free agent out of Youngstown State in 2011, was seen as something of a long shot because of the numbers in a deep secondary.

Ross said Friday was "pretty normal" as he waited and waited for the 8 p.m. deadline for the Packers to make their cuts. His phone stayed silent, other than calls from his anxious parents and agent Chris Cabott. Knowing that "no news is good news," when 8 p.m. came and went and Ross hadn't been asked to turn in his iPad playbook, "I let out the biggest sigh of relief. ‘OK, I made the team.'"

His joy paled in comparison to that of his parents.

"They were more excited than me," he said. "They just kept saying that they were proud of me. My dad said, ‘Now you've got that off your list. Now it's time to get the work in and show them why they chose you instead of just being content.' My mom, she was excited about everything."

Ross (6-0, 191) does his best work in the slot, where his toughness is a major asset in the run game and his intelligence allows him to quickly diagnose whether it's a run or pass.

"I played safety in college my first three years and I played safety in high school," he said. "Being a safety, I liked to know everything that's going on with the whole defense. Being at corner, I don't really have to know as much but I choose to learn as much as i can to help me play faster. I feel like if I know where everyone else is around me, I can get a feel of where I can go and take a chance on making a big play, or maybe I have to sit back and protect somebody else."

Making the team is only one step. Staying on the team and making an impact is the next. The advice given by his father is right on the money. With Erik Walden coming back from a suspension next week, a roster move will have to be made. Another roster move must be made when Mike Neal returns from his suspension after Week 4.

"The next step is to be on the active gameday roster and play special teams or maybe a package on defense," he said. "I've come a long way — gotten bigger, stronger, faster. Last year, that playbook looked like Chinese to me. Now, I know three different positions on the field (corner, nickel and dime) and I'm able to play them all at a fairly high level."


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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