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Bengals Bytes (8/12): Leg up on the competition

Jeff Driskel stole the show Friday night with his incredible performance. Joe Mixon’s most important play isn’t on his highlight reel. The Bills shipped Sammy Watkins to the Rams.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Q&A: NFLPA President Eric Winston On Work Stoppages, Colin Kaepernick, And "The NFL Police"
The current collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players’ union runs through the 2020 season. But even with training camps in full swing and the focus turning to FOOTBAW, there are still a number of labor-management issues percolating behind the scenes. Deadspin recently spoke to Bengals offensive lineman and NFLPA president Eric Winston by phone. What follows is a transcript of that conversation, which has been edited for clarity.

Football is family for coaches Jay and Jonathan Hayes
TAMPA, Fla. -- For Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach Jay Hayes, football has always been about family. For 13 years, that family was the Cincinnati Bengals, the team his Bucs will visit Friday night in the preseason opener. Hayes coached there with his brother, Jonathan, who still serves as the tight ends coach. This week marks the first time the two will actually coach against each other.

Buccaneers vs. Bengals highlights | Preseason Week 1
Watch complete game highlights from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cincinnati Bengals preseason battle.

Lewis Postgame News Conference: 8/11
Head Coach Marvin Lewis speaks to the media following the Bengals preseason win over Tampa Bay.

Bengals flex depth, Mixon in opening win
Third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel ended nearly a year-long wait to make his Bengals debut in spectacular fashion when he led touchdown drives the first two times he touched the ball to open the second half. The first one came on an 18-yard sprint off a zone read and the second on an eight-yard pass to stretching rookie wide receiver Josh Malone cutting across the back of the end on third down.

Quick hits: Mom, McCoy surprise Mixon; Dalton upbeat
It wasn’t exactly a cold opening for Bengals rookie running back Joe Mixon when he took the Paul Brown Stadium Stage Friday night for his NFL debut in the pre-season opener against the Bucs and delivered as advertised with 31 yards on six carries and a ‘wow,’ 11-yard catch-and-run. It began when he ran out of the tunnel in pregame and he heard a familiar voice stand out in the crowd. “Hey,” it said. “Baby boy.”

Buccaneers at Bengals Postgame Quotes
I’m pleased overall, I think, with the football game and the fact we (put ourselves in) some good situations. I think that’s key. We had a good opportunity for our young guys to experience NFL football. In the first half and early in the game, we still have to work and get used to tackling and being around the ball and all those things that you don’t get to do in practice. We’ve got to keep working on that.

Driskel legs Bengals past Bucs
How good was third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel in his Bengals debut when he engineered the 23-12 victory over Tampa Bay in Friday’s pre-season opener at Paul Brown Stadium with 17 second-half points? After watching him run a zone read for an 18-yard touchdown straight out of the Best of Tim Tebow, first-string quarterback Andy Dalton wasn’t quite sure if everyone realized what had just taken place. Including Driskel. “I haven’t seen a run like that from a quarterback in this league in forever. I don’t even think he realized what he did until after the fact,” Dalton said. “I think everybody around here knows he has it in him. To make two guys run into each other and fall down, it’s pretty special.”

Joe Mixon gets warm reception in debut for Cincinnati Bengals
It might be odd that one of the biggest cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday night came on a simple 5-yard gain by Joe Mixon. But considering Mixon has the potential to be one of the most exciting rookies to suit up for Cincinnati in several years, it makes a little more sense. The debut of the Bengals' second-round pick was a success. Mixon played one half, rushing six times for 31 yards and catching a pass for 11 yards in the Bengals' 23-12 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason opener for both teams.

Bengals' RB Joe Mixon's biggest play comes away from ball
No burpees. It’s a simple goal, and they’re not entirely difficult for a professional athlete to pull off. But if you miss an assignment in Cincinnati Bengals running backs room, you’re doing them. They might be Instagrammed for posterity with the cheerful jeers of your teammates filling the background. You might do them on the practice field in front of everyone. But you don’t want to do them.

Jeff Driskel lifts Cincinnati Bengals to preseason victory
A player making his first appearance in a Cincinnati Bengals jersey stole the show, but his name wasn’t Joe. Rookie running back Joe Mixon was indeed impressive in his NFL debut, but the night belonged to third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel, who threw for one touchdown and ran for another to rally the Bengals for a 23-12 victory against Tampa Bay in the preseason opener Friday night at Paul Brown Stadium.

Bengals predictions: Final record, playoff odds from our computers, experts, Vegas
The Bengals, for the first time in five years, didn't end their season with a loss in the AFC wild-card round. Instead, they finished 6-9-1 in 2016 and failed to make the postseason altogether. For Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton, it's deja vu all over again entering 2017. Could big changes be coming in the offseason if, yet again, Cincy fails to get a playoff win? After adding two explosive weapons in the draft in speedster WR John Ross and controversial RB Joe Mixon, there's reason for optimism. Here's what's in store.

AFC North Bytes

Joe Flacco Won't Return from Back Injury for Ravens Until Regular Season
The Baltimore Ravens announced Friday that quarterback Joe Flacco will not play in any of the team's remaining three preseason games as he continues to recover from a back injury. "The 10th-year standout has been re-examined, and his progress from a back issue is good," the statement noted. "He will return to practice in the preseason, but he is not expected to play in these games. The plan is for Flacco to be the starting quarterback against Cincinnati in the regular season opener on Sept. 10."

DeShone Kizer being groomed as the Browns' franchise QB -- but timing is everything
DeShone Kizer is being groomed as the Browns' franchise quarterback, but timing is everything when it comes to the success or failure of the Notre Dame product. As soon as Kizer demonstrates that he's ready to execute the offense and decipher a pro defense, he'll be named the Browns' starting quarterback, and not a moment before. It will happen sooner than later this season, but perhaps not by the opener Sept. 10 against the Steelers -- although that's still entirely possible.

Steelers vs. Giants - Game Recap
Watching T.J. Watt and Josh Dobbs in their first NFL game, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin got what he expected from the draft picks. They had their ups and downs, and they showed they belonged in the league, as did eighth-year linebacker Arthur Moats.

Random Bytes

Bills trade Sammy Watkins to Rams, acquire Matthews
The Buffalo Bills dialed up a pair of trades on Friday morning that comprehensively reorganize their wideout room -- among others. The team announced that Sammy Watkins has been shipped to the Los Angeles Rams -- along with a 2018 sixth-round pick -- in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-rounder. In a corresponding swap, the Bills acquired Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-rounder from the Eagles for starting-level cornerback Ronald Darby.

Ryan Tannehill to Reportedly Undergo Season-Ending Surgery on Knee Injury
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will undergo season-ending knee surgery and be placed on injured reserve, according to the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero and Palm Beach Post's Joe Schad. Tannehill injured his knee in training camp on Aug. 3, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The 29-year-old fell to the ground on a non-contact play when his left knee appeared to buckle.

Ezekiel Elliott Releases Statement Regarding NFL's 6-Game Suspension
As part of the NFL's decision to suspend Elliott, NFL Chief Disciplinary Officer Todd Jones said "there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against" against Tiffany Thompson, who accused him of domestic violence in July 2016. Elliott does have the option to appeal the suspension within three business days, which ESPN's Adam Schefter reported he intends to do. Schefter also noted a hearing must be scheduled within 10 days of Elliott filing an appeal.

NFL Preseason Week 1 Roundup: Roberto Aguayo Pick Continues to Haunt Buccaneers
Week 1 of the 2017 preseason continued Friday night with a trio of games. There was a matchup of 2016 playoff teams in the Big Apple, a contest between a pair of teams with legit hopes of making the postseason in 2017 and a game between a division champion and a tomato can in Kansas City. Of course, preseason games aren't really about the games themselves. They're an opportunity for teams to start working out the kinks. A shot for rookies to get their first taste of NFL game action. And a chance for fans to get their first looks at their favorite teams in 2017.