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Bengals rookie report: Joe Mixon, Jordan Evans injured early; Brian Hill makes most of limited touches

Brian Hill took advantage of getting to play with another Joe Mixon injury.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

In the final home performance of the 2017 season, the Bengals defeated the Detroit Lions and eliminated them from playoff contention, and several rookies made crucial plays to make that happen.

Here’s our rookie report for the Christmas Eve clash.


  • Joe Mixon seven snaps on offense
  • Jordan Willis 16 snaps on defense; five snaps on special teams
  • Carl Lawson 45 snaps on defense; four snaps on special teams
  • Josh Malone 16 snaps on offense
  • Ryan Glasgow 20 snaps on defense; 15 snaps on special teams
  • Jordan Evans 17 snaps on defense; six snaps on special teams
  • Brian Hill Seven snaps on offense; 19 snaps on special teams
  • Hardy Nickerson 37 snaps on defense; 14 snaps on special teams
  • Cethan Carter 19 snaps on special teams
  • Brandon Wilson 22 snaps on special teams
  • Brandon Bell Four snaps on defense; 18 snaps on special teams


  • Josh Tupou (healthy scratch)
  • Jarveon Williams (healthy scratch)

Joe Mixon and Brian Hill

Sunday’s game ball deservedly belonged to Giovani Bernard, and he was able to receive the heavy workload he took upon due to an ankle injury Mixon suffered midway through the first period.

In his first game since suffering a concussion three weeks ago against the Steelers, Mixon was the recipient of the first five touches of the Bengals offense. He had 12 rushing yards on three carries and 20 receiving yards on two receptions. He did not return to the game.

After Mixon’s exit, like for the last few games, Hill became Bernard’s running mate in small doses. Hill only touched the ball five times on his seven snaps, but accounted for 51 total yards of offense, with 45 of them coming from two touches. He finished the game with 17 yards on four carries and 34 yards on a long catch and run.

Hill was extremely productive in college at Wyoming, where he finished the 2015 and 2016 seasons with two seasons of over 30% of the Cowboys’ total offensive yardage (40.6% in 2015!) and also rushed for 28 touchdowns in those two years. He’s an unknown to most of the league because of his small school status, but in the limited in-game exposure he’s had, he looks the part of a rotational back with the ability to go between the tackles and pose a threat on the outside.

Hill should have a future here in Cincinnati, and the Bengals would be wise to sit Mixon with a bad ankle and see how Hill performs against a much better run defending unit in Baltimore.

Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson

Willis’ error gave the Lions the five yards they previously lost from a false start penalty, which put them back to a fourth-and-one. They converted the short distance on the ground and scored a potential go-ahead touchdown three plays later.

Lawson waited until the absolute very end to obtain his first sack since Thanksgiving weekend, although it’s fitting that we had to wait until Christmas Eve. His sack on Matthew Stafford was his eighth of the year, and officially put an end to the Lions playoff hopes.

This was the first time since Week 13 that Lawson saw the field more than Willis.

Josh Malone

Another mainly inactive day for the fourth-round pick, Malone saw one target on his 16 snaps, and it was about 40 yards off as he ran a 10-yard hitch route when Andy Dalton threw him a deep ball down the sideline.

Ryan Glasgow

In a rare occasion in the NFL, this game featured two brothers literally facing off against one another, the rookie Glasgow at defense tackle against the second-year Glasgow at Center.

For the most part, the older brother kept the younger one in check, but little Glasgow for the Bengals did recover the Alex Erickson kickoff return fumble early in the fourth quarter.

Jordan Evans and Hardy Nickerson

Plain and simple, it was not a good outing for Evans. He was burned by tight end Eric Ebron for the Lions first touchdown of the game, and later taken out with a concussion he suffered just before halftime.

A head-to-shoulder collision with Vontaze Burfict sent Evans to the ground whilst attempting to wrap up on receiver Kenny Golladay, where he would lie for several moments. He was able to walk off on his own power, but did not return to the game after going through the mysterious concussion protocol.

Nickerson was the next man up after Evans went down and played at middle linebacker for the remainder of the game. He finished the game with one solo tackle, but looked relatively better compared to past weeks.

The Rest

Linebacker Brandon Bell got late game action on defense for four snaps as he was the lone backup of the group remaining, and recorded a lone tackle on a Lions kickoff return. Brandon Wilson and Cethan Carter stuck to special teams, per usual.

Coming up

As is tradition, the Bengals will finish the season with a matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, with the biggest lingering questions being if either rookie from Oklahoma will be good to go.

If not, Hill and Nickerson should see more playing time in the team’s final game.