The Cincinnati Bengals may currently be sitting at the top of the AFC North, but they have some injuries that will need monitoring over the course of the next few weeks, perhaps headlined by a knee issue with starting running back Joe Mixon, who is now expected to miss a couple of games.
Mixon, a second-year player, rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries, including a touchdown in the season opener. During Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, he rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries, giving him 179 yards on 38 carries for the season to date.
He did finish the game, because of which he believed he would be okay. But a day later, reports have surfaced that he will need arthroscopic knee surgery after seeking a second opinion about the injury. That could jeopardize his availability in the next couple of games, but the team doesn’t play another game for 10 days, so it’s possible he can get back in time.
“He said something was bothering him in his knee after one play on the goal line”, Head Coach Marvin Lewis told reporters yesterday. “We have a little time for all of these (injured players to recover), so we’ll see how they come back”.
Mixon said that “it felt weird”, and that his knee was hurting, but “other than that it’s just the mental side of it. You always want to play at 100 percent, but when something is bothering you it’s hard mentally. I just had to check back in mentally and physically tough it out. And that’s pretty much what I did”.
Should the Bengals be forced to go without their starter, the job of primary running back duties would fall due Giovani Bernard, entering his sixth season in the NFL. He was drafted ahead of Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The other running backs on the roster are Tra Carson and Mark Walton, the former a second-year player and the latter a rookie. Carson spent time on the 53-man roster in 2016 but did not record any statistics.
Neither of them touched the ball so far this season, but they will likely have to if Mixon does indeed miss a game or two. Bernard has never been viewed by the Bengals as an every-down back. He has fewer than 1000 career touches over his first five seasons, during which he missed only nine games.
Former Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, who recently suffered a torn ACL, signed with the New England Patriots this offseason in free agency. He was limited to just seven games last year before getting injured, but only had 36 carries in that time as his workload was reduced behind Bernard and Mixon.