Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Joe Mixonreceived more carries in Sunday’s season opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens than either Giovanni Bernard or Jeremy Hill.
While Mixon wasn’t particularly impressive in his regular season debut – he gained just nine yards on eight carries and caught three passes for 15 yards – it’s clear the second-round pick has made a positive impression on Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
“He’s way better than I expected,” Lewis said on a conference call with Houston reporters. “He’s very, very talented. As a football player, he’s excellent and as a young man, I’m really impressed with him and just the way he carries himself and does things. That’s good. He’s going to have a fine pro career and he’s had one game under his belt now.”
The Bengals elected to take the chance on Mixon despite an incident in college at Oklahoma where he punched a woman in the face. While Mixon and the woman have publicly resolved their differences and Mixon has apologized for the incident, the residue of the altercation remained. Cincinnati was the team that ultimately felt comfortable enough to select him and give him his chance in the NFL.
Since getting to the Bengals, Mixon has made a positive impression on Lewis throughout the offseason and now it’s the first week of games.
“He’s a very positive 21-year-old,” Lewis said. “That’s what’s been great about him. He’s into his teammates, he’s here a lot, around here a lot. He’s got a great personality, a very upbeat personality all the time. It’s impressive. He’s like a 21-year-old child and he carries himself as a good, upbeat, positive young man, and that’s what you want to see from him all the time. He’s a great worker, he handles the work. He doesn’t shy away from anything, he’s involved in every aspect here, special teams and on offense, providing looks for the defense and all the things that a young player has to do in the NFL. I’ve been pleased with all that.”
With Mixon already getting more carries than Bernard and Hill, it may only be a matter of time before he takes the reins as Cincinnati’s lead running back.