Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon wasn’t too happy with his workload following his team’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers back in week five. The rookie second-round pick had been finding some success in his limited usage during the first half, rushing for 47 yards on seven carries, but he hardly saw the field the second half as the Bengals tried to play catch-up.
After the team, he let his frustrations be known, making a remark that suggested that he believes he is better than the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, a running back that he acknowledges having looked up to. Pittsburgh relied upon Bell that game, and Mixon said he believes he could have done more than him with the same workload.
The fifth-year veteran did not take that remark lightly, and later ranted on Twitter during the Bengals’ next game about how Mixon was trying to emulate his style—both running and fashion. And even celebration.
Bell pointed out, for example, that the rookie was using the same gestures to mark a first down as he had. Mixon has since stopped doing that. “I looked up to him”, the rookie said this week regarding Bell and his response to the initial remarks. “I wasn’t tripping. Hey, if he doesn’t want me to do it, I’m not going to do it. I’m not worried about it”.
He added, “I’m going out there to win a football game. I’m not going out there trying to figure out what another man is thinking”. And while he is wise to put his focus on winning the game, it should be pointed out that his head coach even acknowledged that he “has to be smarter”.
Mixon recorded the first 100-yard rushing game of his career against the Browns on Sunday, gaining 114 yards on 23 carries by averaging five yards per. He also added another 51 yards on three receptions and scored a rushing touchdown.
That was just his first game in which he rushed for 70 yards or more, he previous high being the 62 that he gained back in week three. It was the third time this season that he has rushed for at least 50 yards, hitting 51 in week five against the Bills.
On the season, he has 150 carries on the nose, but has gained just 484 yards so far, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. He has four rushing touchdowns, three of which have come in the past four games. As a receiver, he has 26 receptions for 258 yards.
For his part, Bell was asked about the whole situation between the two running backs again this week, and said it was “fine” if Mixon wanted to try to emulate him in some ways. “I don’t have a problem with it at all”, he said, though he expressed confusion over why a player who believes he’s better would copy him. “It is what it is. He’s his own player; I’m my own player”