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NFL Week 3 Bengals rookie report: Carl Lawson unleashed vs Packers

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All offseason, the hype was exponential for Carl Lawson, in a favorable matchup, he exceeded the hype against the Packers.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

For the first time since 1998, the Cincinnati Bengals have been defeated by the Green Bay Packers. And for the first time since 2008, the Bengals are 0-3. But hey, at least a few rookies keep showing early on. Here’s our rookie report for week 3’s overtime heartbreaker at Lambeau:

Active

Joe Mixon

Jordan Willis

Carl Lawson

Ryan Glasgow

Jordan Evans

Cethan Carter

Hardy Nickerson

Inactive

John Ross

Josh Malone

Joe Mixon

There were a few whispers leading up to Sunday that this was going to be Mixon’s backfield going forward, and for the most part, it was on Sunday. The rookie out of Oklahoma out-snapped both Jeremy Hill (14) and Giovani Bernard (13) with 34 snaps of his own, and recorded 18 carries for 62 yards; along with three receptions for 39 yards, which was second only to A.J. Green.

Of Mixon’s 18 carries, 10 of them went for three yards or less. Of those 10 specific carries, five of them were of the same play design and blocking scheme that either the offensive line simply could not execute, or the box was favoring Green Bay:

These are zone reads with pulling action from the weak side of the formation, and they gained, in sequential order: one yard, one yard, one yard, -1 yards, -2 yards.

Entering the Bengals final drive of the fourth quarter, Mixon had 34 yards on 12 carries under his belt, but after a two-yard carry to open the drive, he put together four consecutive runs for 28 yards that got the Bengals in scoring range to put away the game:

All was looking promising up until the Bengals final third-down play of the game, where Mixon tripped while waiting to receive the handoff from Andy Dalton. One may question if Mixon would’ve been able to even convert the first down with Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett flying into the backfield untouched, but nevertheless, Mixon has to receive the handoff in the first place:

It was a disappointing end to Mixon’s inconsistent day, as he only got one carry in the overtime period. It was for -2 yards and blown up in the backfield. This offense under Bill Lazor clearly wants to feature Mixon more, but the lack of personnel up front and a continued struggle to find what works in terms of play design, his ceiling may be rather limited for the time being.

Jordan Willis

With the return of Michael Johnson, Willis was regulated back to rotational duties, mostly at left defensive end. He played a total of 13 snaps, and outside of tackling a scrambling Aaron Rodgers from behind 9 yards down the field, did nothing of note.

Carl Lawson

While Willis was on the sidelines for 81% of the game, Lawson caught the eyes of the entire league. The previous two weeks, Lawson has had plenty of snaps and has been great at getting pressure from the right edge, but hasn’t been able to finish and take down the quarterback. Green Bay had backup swing tackle Kyle Murphy playing for the injured David Bakhtiari, and Lawson took advantage:

I’ll go more in-depth about Lawson’s sacks tomorrow in the Weekly Lineman. It wasn’t until after his third and a half sack (shown below) that was called back due to a penalty on the Bengals that the Packers finally started giving Murphy some help on Lawson.

His fourth quarter was uneventful as a result, and the rest of the defensive line was gassed at this point as well in the 90-degree heat. But, many were hoping Lawson’s impressive offseason would eventually translate into production in his rookie season. This game was a nice statement from the fourth round pass rusher.

It should be noted that while Johnson started at right defensive end and ended up with 57 snaps, Lawson ended up playing two less snaps and actually started taking base reps on first and second down as the game went on.

Ryan Glasgow

Glasgow continued in his role as Geno Atkins’ backup at 3T and out-snapped Andrew Billings 15 snaps to three. Due to the Packers unbalanced play calling (42 passes to 17 rushes), the Bengals had more use of their pass-rushing sub packages, which is why neither Glasgow nor Billings were on the field that much. We’ll see how that is handled in the weeks to come with Johnson and Chris Smith taking more snaps inside in base and sub packages.

Jordan Evans, Cethan Carter and Hardy Nickerson

These three combined for 54 snaps on special teams, while Carter played two snaps on offense at tight end and Nickerson, not Evans, got in on three snaps on defense at linebacker. Evans was just a special teamer this game, but him, not Nickerson, will likely stay on the 53 man roster with Vontaze Burfict coming back from suspension.

Coming up

Despite mixed results on the field, Mixon still looks to be the best complete back on the team and should continue to see more time in the backfield than on the sidelines, and there’s no confusion as to how Lawson impacts this pass rushing unit. My main questions are with the two receivers. Will John Ross be back against Cleveland, and if not, will they finally activate Josh Malone? The first battle of Ohio of 2017 this Sunday should answer quite a few questions.