Hill (ankle) doesn't expect to be a Bengal for the 2018 season, Jim Owczarski of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. "Been one hell of a ride Cincinnati on to the next chapter," Hill posted on his personal Twitter page. Hill made his last appearance of the campaign Week 8, eventually opting for season-ending ankle surgery with his impending free agency in mind. The writing seemed to be on the wall when the Bengals selected Joe Mixon in the second round of the 2017 draft, and Hill's workload didn't exceed eight touches in any of his seven appearances. Once Hill hits the open market in March, the 25-year-old will be able to point to certain bullet points on his resume. As a rookie in 2014, he posted a career-best 1,124 rushing yards, reeling them off at 5.1 YPC. Furthermore, he combined for 30 touchdowns in his first three seasons before the abbreviated one in 2017.
Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer relay that Hill (ankle) seems unlikely to return to the Bengals. Hill, who is bouncing back from season-ending ankle surgery, previously indicated that he "should be back to (himself)" in January, noting that he elected to address his ankle woes back in November in order to put himself in the best possible position heading into free agency. The Enquirer report projects the possibility of Hill returning to the Bengals at one percent. That sounds reasonable, given that the team drafted Joe Mixon last April and still has Giovani Bernard under contract through 2019.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he was surprised when he learned that Hill was opting for season-ending surgery on his injured ankle, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirerreports. The Bengals for some reason thought Hill would try to play through the injury and put off surgery until the offseason -- an approach that wouldn't make much sense for an impending free agent with a very limited role. This presumably seals Hill's fate in Cincinnati, where the Bengals will happily move forward with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, likely hoping that offensive line renovations can get the running game back on track next offseason. Hill hasn't done much of note besides scoring goal-line touchdowns since his rookie season, but he should at least have time to get healthy before 2018 training camp, at which point he'll likely be competing for a role with a new team. It's hard to imagine any franchise would sign him with a clear-cut lead role in mind. Hill will finish out the 2017 campaign on injure reserve.
The Bengals placed Hill (ankle) on injured reserve Saturday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Hill's move to IR will leave rookie Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard as the team's only healthy running backs, with Mixon in store for the bulk of the snaps out of the backfield. Though he's retained a starting role through each of his seven games this season, Hill hasn't carried the ball more than seven times in any contest and was averaging a meager 3.1 yards per carry, which resulted in Mixon quickly earning the workhorse role. Hill is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Hill (ankle) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Titans, Geoff Hobson of the Bengals' official site reports. Hill's second straight absence paves the way for Joe Mixon to continue to handle the bulk of the work in the Bengals backfield Sunday, with Giovani Bernard also on hand to work in a change-of-pace role Week 10.
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