The Bengals have three games left in their 2020 season before a very important offseason begins for the franchise.
One player vital to the success of the franchise moving forward is star running back Joe Mixon, who has been sidelined since suffering a right foot injury in Week 6 vs. the Colts. He was placed on injured reserve in Week 11, so he’s now eligible to get an IR-return designation and play in Cincinnati’s final three games.
However, signs continue to point toward Mixon not playing again this season. After working on the rehab field for several weeks, Mixon has not been on the rehab field since going on IR in Week 11, as Ben Baby noted.
Zac Taylor on Joe Mixon not working on the rehab field: "We're just trying to be smart with him." Said he was in the training room throughout the week.— Santa Baby (@Ben_Baby) November 20, 2020
The fact that Mixon did rehab work and was then shut down shortly afterward isn't necessarily a great sign. https://t.co/S5idEYsMz6— Santa Baby (@Ben_Baby) December 14, 2020
Today, head coach Zac Taylor said it’s unclear if Mixon will be back this week but did add he won’t come off IR today.
Taylor on Joe Mixon: “It remains to be seen if we’ll get him back this week or a later week.”— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) December 14, 2020
He will not be lifted off IR today.
For the season, Mixon has started six games with 119 rushes for 428 yards and three scores, as well as 21 catches for 138 yards and another touchdown. This comes after the Bengals signed Mixon to a four-year, $48 million extension in September, which made him the highest-paid running back in Bengals history and the sixth highest-paid running back in the NFL at the time.
Because the Bengals are now in a lost season and could be set to revamp the coaching staff this offseason, there’s really no reason to bring Mixon back and risk an injury that could affect his availability in offseason workouts, especially if a new offensive system is being installed.
Another reason to keep Mixon out is he wouldn’t even get to play with the Bengals’ franchise quarterback, as Joe Burrow is just beginning his recovery from his torn ACL, leaving Brandon Allen to man the ship for the rest of the season.
Now, Allen is banged up as well after suffering a bone bruise in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. The good news it doesn’t appear the injury is serious, as Allen is now listed as day-to-day and will remain the starter as long as he’s able to play.
Allen has played admirably in relief of Burrow, and it’s obvious the former Arkansas Razorback is an upgrade over Ryan Finley, the Bengals’ backup in 2019 who’s been an absolute disaster every time he’s played in the regular season.
I’d expect Allen to play this week, and it will help that he gets an extra day to recover before the Bengals host the Steelers on Monday Night Football. But unless something changes, I would not expect Mixon to suit up for that contest.