Mixon (undisclosed) was on the field for the first running play of the day at Thursday's practice, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
The running back left Wednesday's practice early, but his return to the field in such short order confirms that the issue that caused his exit was a minor one. With Jeremy Hill no longer in the mix, a healthy Mixon is on track to head the Bengals' backfield this season, with Giovani Bernard still on hand, and set to reprise his change-of-pace/pass-catching role for the team.
Mixon (undisclosed) left Wednesday's practice early, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports.
Per the report, as Mixon left the field, he "was walking slowly, but he wasn't limping or anything." We'll look for added clarity to see if the running back is dealing with an injury or something more harmless, such as cramping.
Mixon weighed 226 pounds at last year's combine, but he reported to rookie minicamp at 238 and played most of his rookie season around 230. A report from April had him around 225, and he apparently wants to take it a step further, even if that means sacrificing some power. In addition to the obvious benefits in terms of speed and acceleration, the second-year back may find that a slimmer physique helps him gain separation running routes. Perhaps more important than his own development, Mixon stands to benefit if the Bengals' offseason moves to upgrade their woeful offensive line end up being successful. In addition to trading for left tackle Cordy Glenn and drafting center Billy Price in the first round, Cincinnati hired offensive line coach Frank Pollack, who spent the last three seasons in Dallas. Giovani Bernard will still be involved in some capacity, but the Bengals seem intent on having Mixon handle the lead role.
Upon landing in Cincy as a second-round pick last year, Mixon recalled that he weighed 238 pounds at the time. In an effort to "get a step quicker," he's devoted his first full offseason as a professional to working out, instead of traveling the pre-draft circuit. He worked his way up the depth chart during his first campaign, leading all Bengals running backs in yards from scrimmage (913) and rushing yards (626) and matching Gio Bernard in total touchdowns with four. With a goal to lose five more pounds, Mixon likely hopes to improve upon a dismal mark of 3.5 yards per carry, and the departure of Jeremy Hill to the Patriots in free agency should give him enough extra touches to surpass the output from his rookie year.
Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said Wednesday that Mixon will act as the team's lead runner in 2018 and will be relied upon heavily, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. "Joe really came on for us in the later part of the [past] year, second half of the season. He's going to be our bell-cow running back," Tobin said. "We are going to combine him with [Giovani Bernard] and we really feel good about that position group."
As a second-round rookie out of Oklahoma, Mixon saw more limited usage behind starter Jeremy Hill (ankle) during the Bengals' first two games before effectively emerging as the top back on the depth chart for the bulk of the campaign. Though he battled an ankle injury over the final quarter of the campaign and yielded more work to Bernard, Mixon evidently made enough of an impression over his 14 games to earn the clear No. 1 role heading into 2018. In order to maintain the bell-cow role for the balance of the season and limit Bernard to change-of-pace work, however, Mixon will likely need to display more efficiency than he did during his first year in the NFL. Mixon's 3.5 yards per carry last season was the third-worst mark in the league for players who toted the ball at least 170 times, ahead of only Carolina's Jonathan Stewart (3.4) and Washington's Samaje Perine (3.4).
|P3||8/26/18||@ BUF||4:00 pm|
|1||9/9/18||@ IND||1:00 pm|
|3||9/23/18||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|4||9/30/18||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|7||10/21/18||@ KC||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|11||11/18/18||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ LAC||4:05 pm|
|16||12/23/18||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|