In street clothes with a bum toe, Derrick Ross stood in the rain this week thinking about how fortunate he was. The former star running back at Huntsville High School watched his first regular-season NFL game Sunday as a full-fledged member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Man, it was nice,” Ross said Tuesday evening from his new home in Kansas City. “I didn’t suit up because I sprained my big toe. Still, it was amazing. It was fast.

“The people from Kansas City were screaming and hollering even when it was raining. They were out there supporting us. Yeah, they booed because the offense wasn’t clicking. But that’s all right.”

An undrafted free agent out of Tarleton State, Ross beat long odds and earned a spot on the team this summer. He outlasted Oklahoma’s Quentin Griffin and McKenzi Smith from Washington State for the Chiefs’ fourth running back spot.

At the end of training camp, Ross said it was nerve-racking waiting to hear who made the team and who did not.

“That first cut they did in the locker room,” Ross explained. “A coach would come by and grab you. That means you’re off the team. They were coming in and they kept passing me. I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ The assistants were taking guys to the president’s (Carl Peterson) office, and I thought, ‘OK, I have a chance.’”

Ross, a powerful, yet speedy 225-pound back, survived that first cut, but so did Griffin and Smith. More work had to be done for the guy who split time between defensive end and running back on the Hornets’ last district championship team in 2000.

“I went out to practice and I was still doing good. The final cuts were that Thursday,” Ross said. “Thursday came up and I saw all my friends leaving, guys who I had become tight with. They had to trim the roster down to 53 players and they were picking all the young guys out.

“I was sitting by my locker, which is right by the door. They kept passing me, and the veterans were looking at me. They told me congratulations, but I said, ‘It ain’t over yet.’ Then one of the coaches announced, ‘Congratulations, these are the 53 people that we’re going to battle with. I was so happy.”

Later that day, Ross was cornered by Chiefs running back coach James Saxon.

“He told me, ‘Son, you’re a really good football player. If you keep working hard, you can be a great player in this league some day,’” Ross said.

“God is so good. I remember on draft day I was in tears. My worst day and my best day were so close together. They started noticing me when Larry (Johnson) started helping me. That was a shock because I came from a small school. They also traded for Michael Bennett, but they cut Quentin Griffin and McKenzi Smith for me.”

Convinced that he would be relegated to team’s practice squad, Ross said he was surprised when he made the 53-man roster.

“They’ve told me to sit there and learn,” Ross said. “Larry got drafted in the first round, and he didn’t really play for three years. I’ve got to be patient and pay my dues. I’m going to learn the plays in and out and play special teams until I get my shot.”

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