For the first time in his career, Joe Mixon may have the chance to be a three-down back.
With Giovani Bernard now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cincinnati Bengals don’t have a proven lethal pass-catching back to use in third-down situations.
With greater responsibility, Mixon is looking for a breakout season. As with former No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, Mixon missed several games last season. He managed snaps in just six games, by far the lowest amount of his six-year career.
Last year, Mixon snapped a two-year streak of hitting at least 1,400 all-purpose yards. He’ll look to get back to leading the Bengals backfield, and he’s planning on setting the pace for an offense that could easily struggle to get going early in the season.
“I’m going to set the tone. I always set the tone for the team. And they feed off of me. There are a lot of plays and a lot of yards out there,” Mixon said via Bengals.com’s senior writer Geoff Hobson.
Mixon, despite entering just his fifth season in the league, will be one of the most-veteran playmakers. He’s the second most experienced of the quintet he dubbed the “Fabulous Five.” Only wide receiver Tyler Boyd will enter the season with more experience than Mixon.
Both Mixon and Burrow will be looking to get re-acclimated to the pace of the game, and as with Burrow, it’s seemed he’s struggled early in camp to get back into his last-season form. That could put added pressure on Mixon, who was given a four-year, $48 million extension.
Mixon is an ultra-talented runner, and he’ll need to do his best to carry this offense. With an improved offensive line, he’ll have every opportunity to do just that.