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Bengals 2021 Season Awards: Comeback Player of the Year

The Cincinnati Bengals had a number of players rebound in big ways this season. Cast your vote and sound off on your winner!

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

“Comeback Player of the Year” has many connotations. In most peoples’ eyes, it denotes a high performance from a player coming back from injury.

However, as was the case with Jon Kitna back in 2003, it also can include a player who shines at a high level, even though low expectations followed said player. We’ve got a little bit of both on our version for the 2021 Bengals season awards, so cast your vote and sound off on your winner!

Joe Burrow

The Bengals’ franchise quarterback won the NFL’s award, so he is likely the front-runner with fans on ours, as well. After shredding his knee a little over midway through his rookie season, Burrow came back with a vengeance.

He set the Bengals’ single-season passing records for yards (4,611) and touchdown passes (34). No asterisks are needed here with the extra game on the schedule either, as Burrow did this in the previous-standard of a 16-game format. Burrow was the driving force behind the Bengals’ improbable Super Bowl LVI run.

Joe Mixon

It seems like nobody is talking about how Mixon played in just six games last year. Because of his being healthy and back to his productive self, the statistical jump seen from 2020 to 2021 was enormous with Mixon.

Mixon set career-highs in rushing yards (1,205) and touchdowns (16 total), as he was one of the most important players on the roster this year. Mixon had almost 1,000 more yards from scrimmage and 12 more touchdowns this year, as opposed to his injury-plagued 2020 campaign.

C.J. Uzomah

The athletic tight end had an exciting start to 2020, but it quickly evaporated with a season-ending injury in Week 2 versus the Browns. The injury was just another in a long line of them for the Bengals last season.

However, Uzomah bounced back in a big way this year. On the field, Uzomah had 49 catches for 493 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season. He also had the big, opening drive touchdown grab in the Wild Card win over the Raiders.

In the locker room, Uzomah became a major leader for the team and provided a big emotional boost when he unexpectedly returned for the Super Bowl. If Burrow was the heart of the 2021 team, Uzomah was the soul of it.

Trey Hopkins

The fact that Hopkins played from the get-go this season was a near-miracle. He suffered a devastating knee injury in the final game of 2020, putting the start of 2021 in jeopardy.

There were bumps along the way in his path back to starting at center, but as the season went on and he regained confidence in his knee, his play steadied. He’s currently slated to be the team’s center next year after being in the middle of career years from Mixon, Burrow and Co.

D.J. Reader

The big nose tackle quietly had an outstanding campaign in 2021. Like many others on this list, his first year with the Bengals was cut drastically short with an injury, but he came back and led the resurgent Cincinnati defense.

Reader had two sacks in the regular season and another two in the postseason, along with 43 total regular-season tackles and the second-highest quarterback hit total of his career with seven.

Eli Apple

Though it wasn’t a Pro Bowl-like campaign, Apple played the best football of his career for the Bengals in 2021. And, he did so while embracing a much more prominent role than the one originally envisioned.

He had two interceptions in the regular season, to go with 10 total passes defended. He had five more in the postseason, as aids in causing interceptions.


Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ 2021 Comeback Player of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    Joe Burrow
    (331 votes)
  • 2%
    Joe Mixon
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    C.J. Uzomah
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Trey Hopkins
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    D.J. Reader
    (39 votes)
  • 4%
    Eli Apple
    (18 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
416 votes total Vote Now