The Bengals have big things planned for Joe Mixon.
Entering his second NFL season, Mixon is primed to be the bell-cow back after a promising rookie season that saw him record 336 total yards over his final four games. He did so while splitting time with Giovani Bernard, though the expectation is Mixon will be the featured back in Year 2.
Mixon has responded to this by slimming down this offseason in hopes of being a more complete three-down back. In an interview with Bengals.com, Mixon detailed his offseason workouts that have helped him slim down to 218 after he played in the 230 range as rookie.
“I was working in that heat,” says Mixon, who got it both barrels in his hometown of Oakland and his adopted home of Norman, Okla. “I feel like that’s where I play my best. I was trying to get low last year but I wasn’t able to make it. I feel real good. My body feels real good. I feel like I’m in really good shape.”
It’s scary to think Mixon could actually be faster and quicker than we already saw in 2017, when he also played behind arguably the worst offensive line in football. The Bengals also changed offensive coordinators after two games, which really helped keep this unit in shambles for most of the season, finishing 32nd in total offense.
Despite those issues, Mixon led the team in rushing yards 626) while also grabbing 30 passes for 287 yards. He came on strong to end the season, including a 165 total-yard performance against the Browns.
Since then, the offensive line has gotten major upgrades this offseason, and now Mixon has made improvements of his own.
Count Ickey Woods among those excited about Mixon and what he could do in Year 2. The Bengals great told Bengals.com that Mixon can have a big 2018 if everything falls into place.
“He can definitely be a bell cow. A 1,000-yard back. A 1,300-1,400 yard back if he has the right offensive line in front of him,” Woods says. “He can average 80, 90 yards a game and be right there.”
Woods went as far as to compare Mixon to another Bengals great: James Brooks.
“He has the ability to do what James Brooks did. Run the ball well and be in there on passing downs,” Woods says. “He doesn’t mind putting his head down and running over somebody or running a (pass) route as well.”
Brooks is one of the most accomplished running backs in Bengals history, and a big reason why was his ability to beat teams on the ground and through the air. He finished his career with 7,962 rushing yards and 3,621 receiving yards to go with 79 total scores.
That’s some great company to be compared to, and it only builds up more excitement for what Mixon is about to do to this league.