While he may not have been thrilled about how the early stages of free agency went for his Cincinnati Bengals, resulting in him losing his two best offensive lineman, veteran quarterback Andy Dalton had to be pleased with how the first couple of rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft went.
The Bengals brought in some new weapons for him to toy with—but he is also acutely aware that one of those weapons once very infamously used his fist as a weapon against a woman in the middle of a fast food restaurant. That would be running back Joe Mixon, who you can probably assume was not even on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ board.
Whether or not he likes the idea of playing with a teammate who has his history, he can’t exactly say that in public. And you know that he is going to be asked about it fairly regularly, especially early on. So it’s not surprising that it was among the first questions that he was asked in his first availability since last season.
“I think he understands the situation he’s in and what he did and I think he will try to do everything he can to make it as good as can be”, Dalton said about his new young teammate and the baggage that he brings to a team that occasionally feels like a storage space for such things.
Perhaps unaware of the understatement in his description, he said that “it’s unfortunate that it happened”, adding that he believes the locker room will help him, even with volatile personalities in it such as Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict.
“We have a lot of great guys in this locker room and a lot of great people that can surround him making sure he’s doing all the right things”, he told reporters. “It’s good for him to get in the locker room and get around guys and get back to playing football again”.
I’m not sure what question prompted this answer, but the quarterback went on to point out that Mixon has “been given a second chance. People may say, ‘well, I wish he wasn’t here’, People may say, ‘I’m glad he’s here’. But he’s here regardless, so I think now for me I’m going to be the best teammate I can be, and be someone that can show him how to handle yourself”
“I think he’s willing and I hope he’s willing”, he continued, “and if he is then he could have a good long career because he’s a talented player”. His talent was certainly never in question—there was a large consensus that he was a top-three talent at his position in the draft class—and of course that is why the Bengals drafted him.
“I would think that with [Mixon’s] versatility–the ability to run and catch–I think that’s going to be big” he said. “The biggest thing for him is coming in and picking up everything quickly. The quicker he picks things up the more we’ll be able to do with him”, Dalton said.