Justyn Ross's extensive injury history clouds future projections

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals
Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The journey to the NFL is a long process for those trying to make their mark on the league, and injuries often are the difference between who makes it to the league and those who have to step away from football. Justyn Ross of the Kansas City Chiefs has had a history of injuries that led him to go from a projected first-round draft pick to an undrafted free agent. Fortunately, he has shown signs of being a contributor, but he still has not played in an NFL regular season game.

Before we see where Ross goes in the NFL, it is essential to look at what he has gone through to get to this point in his football career.

Ross has faced a long journey back to this point with the Chiefs as a player hoping to make the active roster, a journey marked by the resiliency of having overcome myriad injuries. But those same injuries also make it difficult to project how he might hold up in a sport so physical.

Just how many hurdles has Ross been forced to overcome? Let's look at his injury history in detail:

May 2020

After two seasons of leading the Clemson Tigers in receptions and yards to include winning the 2019 National Championship against Alabama and becoming a top prospect in the NFL draft, coach Dabo Swinney reported that Justyn Ross was going to have to sit out the 2020 season due to being diagnosed with a congenital condition known as congenital fusion. This condition had led to a malformation in his spine, necessitating surgical intervention. The surgery left his football future in the balance as many questioned whether he would ever play again.

November 2021

During Ross' junior season at Clemson, he returned to similar production to his sophomore year. Ross was leading Clemson receivers in receptions and yards before he injured his foot while playing against UConn. It was later reported that Ross had been playing through a stress fracture throughout his 2021 season at Clemson. Ross would get an initial surgery to repair the damage in his foot, leading to him missing the rest of the 2021 season.

A stress fracture is caused by repetitive stress or overuse, especially in repetitive activities like running and cutting, resulting in tiny cracks in the bone. The resulting surgery and Ross's need to sit out the remainder of the 2021 season led to many questions from NFL scouts. Ross would not return to Clemson for his senior season and would declare for the NFL draft, but he went undrafted and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

July 2022

During an interview during organized team activities (OTAs), Andy Reid reported that Ross had to undergo a second surgery to "clean up" more of the injury suffered in November 2021. Ross would head into training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list that year. Shortly after being placed on the PUP list, Ross was placed on injured reserve, and he would not play for the 2022 Super Bowl run in Kansas City. Before Ross was placed on IR, he showed signs of a receiver that could flourish in the Patrick Mahomes-led offense, but it was also clear he was not fully healthy.


Going into 2023, all signs point to Justyn Ross making his regular-season debut with the Kansas City Chiefs. Ross has faced an uphill climb to this level and has shown flashes of why he was once projected to be a first-round draft pick before his career was blemished with injuries that would lead players to step away from the game of football. Now that he is healthy and gaining the trust of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Ross appears ready to make his NFL debut and shed the injury designation that has followed him the last couple of seasons.

What do you think of Ross's potential? Is this story going to sprout wings and take off? Or is Justyn Ross an OTA darling about to come crashing down into reality? Let us know in the comments.