Joe Mixon

La Canfora’s Latest: Steelers, Bengals, Bucs

Antonio Brown‘s decision to skip practice on Monday represented a culmination of months of tension between the Steelers and their All-Pro receiver, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Brown was upset earlier this year after being told that his personal trainer and social media manager would no longer be welcome on Pittsburgh’s practice field, and some within the organization believe his multi-day absence during training camp — ostensibly due to a injury — was instead related to his disappointment. Ultimately, the Steelers believe Brown simply wants to win, but there is reportedly also concern with the club that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s close relationship with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner (and his subsequent influence on play-calling) could cause more strain in the locker room.

Here’s more from La Canfora:

  • Bengals running back Joe Mixon could potentially return to the field in time for Week 4, per La Canfora. Mixon underwent knee surgery immediately following Cincinnati’s Week 3 Thursday night victory, and initial assessments indicated he could be sidelined two-to-four weeks. However, because the Bengals played mid-week in Week 3, Mixon’s timeline could be sped up, meaning he could return to action when Cincinnati faces Atlanta next Sunday. A second-round pick in 2017, Mixon was outstanding during the Bengals’ season opener, averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry on the ground while adding five receptions in the passing game. Backup Giovani Bernard is holding down the fort while Mixon is out, while the Bengals also have Mark Walton and Thomas Rawls on their running back depth chart.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is unlikely to be replaced as the Buccaneers‘ starting quarterback no matter how he fares against the Steelers on Monday night, reports La Canfora. While Jameis Winston will come off suspension prior to Week 4, Fitzpatrick has been among the league’s best quarterbacks through two games, as he leads the NFL passing yardage while racking up eight passing touchdowns. Fitzpatrick has internal support within the locker room (and especially from Tampa Bay’s offensive line), so the club’s coaching staff is unlikely to make a change any time soon. The Buccaneers face the Bears in Week 4 before heading into a bye the following week.
  • The Raiders will move to Las Vegas either in 2019 or 2020, and they could potentially need a temporary stadium for the 2019 campaign if no extension with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority can be reached. With that in mind, the Raiders have contacted the city of San Diego about playing there next season, says La Canfora, who notes that such as possibility is viewed as remote. More likely, the Raiders will play one year in Oakland, or spend next season sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

AFC North Notes: Gordon, Steelers, Mixon

Josh Gordon trekked to the Browns facility Saturday complaining of hamstring trouble, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), and that’s resulted in the team ruling him out for Sunday’s game against the Saints. Gordon did not travel with the Browns to New Orleans.

This escalated rapidly. Gordon was expected to suit up in Week 2 after playing in Week 1. But the receiver with a notorious penchant for unavailability was slow to return from his latest hiatus because of hamstring pain. Cleveland will attempt to stun New Orleans without him, and Gordon will miss yet another game. After Sunday, the 2013 All-Pro will have missed 55 of the Browns’ past 66 games.

From a player who’s struggled to a historic degree to stay on the field to one whose voluntary absence has generated one of the most unique holdouts in NFL history, here’s the latest from the AFC North.

  • The Steelers took Le’Veon Bell off their depth chart this week and barely anything came out of this saga this week. The running back remains absent from his team and will miss out on another $853K game check, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Bell will have lost $1.7MM by the end of Week 2. This preservation-based holdout has generated concerns from around the league, and even if Bell limits himself to a half-season’s worth of work or less, he will still go into free agency with far more carries than typical running backs seeking second contracts do. Bell has 1,229 totes already, and that’s with him missing 19 career games. By season’s end, assuming he returns, that number figures to reside around at least 1,400. Seeking a Todd Gurley– or David Johnson-level pact is complicated by the fact those younger backs have 1,244 career carries combined.
  • Ben Roethlisberger‘s full practice Friday probably gave this away, but he is slated to play Sunday. ESPN.com’s Diana Russini tweets the 15th-year Steelers quarterback will suit up against the Chiefs in Week 2. An elbow injury cropped up and caused Big Ben to miss Pittsburgh’s Wednesday and Thursday practices, but he’ll be back for a key AFC matchup. With Roethlisberger in the lineup, the Steelers — counting 2016’s divisional-round win — have beaten the Chiefs six straight times dating back to the 2011 season. Kansas City’s one win over Pittsburgh this decade came in 2015 with Landry Jones at the controls.
  • Joe Mixon underwent knee surgery and is set to miss between two and four weeks of Bengals action. The surgery involving a small particle in Mixon’s knee being removed went well, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. This would explain the positive outlook the second-year running back’s received. Bengals brass initially feared Mixon would miss up to six games.

Bengals’ Joe Mixon To Miss 2-4 Weeks

Joe Mixon has already undergone surgery to repair a recent knee issue and will be out for a bit. However, the Bengals running back received some good news on this front.

A two- to four-week timetable now exists for Mixon’s recovery, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. But the Bengals’ initial expectation was for their starting running back to miss between four and six weeks, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), so the second-year player encountered a less troublesome setback than initial fears indicated.

It’s possible, with the Bengals on a mini-bye because of their Thursday-night assignment, Mixon could miss merely one game — Week 3 against the Panthers — according to Rapoport. That might be pushing it, however, given the team’s worries at this process’ outset. The Bengals face the Falcons in Week 4; both of these upcoming NFC South contests are road games, however. Cincinnati then hosts Miami and Pittsburgh in Weeks 5 and 6.

Mixon injured his right knee in the Bengals’ Week 2 win over the Ravens. He’s off to a strong start, rushing for 179 yards (4.7 per carry) and a touchdown and totaling 57 receiving yards on just six catches. Passing-down back Giovani Bernard figures to see the bulk of the work during Mixon’s absence, just as he did when Mixon missed time in December of last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Fear Joe Mixon Needs Knee Surgery

UPDATE: Mixon will have a procedure to remove a “small particle in his knee that was dislodged Thursday night” on Saturday according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Schefter notes the operation is expected to sideline Mixon for just two weeks.

Joe Mixon missed part of Thursday night’s game, and the Bengals fear he’ll have to miss more time because of the knee injury he’s now battling.

The Bengals are concerned their starting running back will need to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com report (on Twitter). Mixon will seek a second opinion.

While having a knee scoped is not a season-ending development in most cases, it almost certainly would cause the second-year back to miss time. Mixon’s off to a good start, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and it’s helped the Bengals to a 2-0 record.

Mixon missing games would mean plenty of Giovani Bernard snaps. While the longtime Bengal is not a traditional between-the-tackles grinder, he’s in his sixth season with the team and now resides as the unquestioned top backup after Jeremy Hill‘s free agency departure.

Behind Bernard sit fourth-round rookie Mark Walton and third-year UDFA Tra Carson. Neither has recorded an NFL carry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon Suffers Concussion

Just as Bengals running back Joe Mixon was beginning to get comfortable with the NFL game, the team has officially ruled him out for rest the team’s Monday night game vs. the Steelers with a concussion.

Joe Mixon (Vertical)

The rookie running back took a big hit from both sides and was down on the ground for awhile until he was able to walk off under his own power to go through testing on the sideline.

Mixon, 21, had started off his NFL career fairly slowly given his lofty status coming out of the draft. Many experts speculated that the former Oklahoma Sooner was just as, if not more talented than top backs like Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook. However, Mixon had just rushed for his first 100 rushing performance last week in a win over Cleveland and was just starting to show that immense potential many thought he had coming into the 2017 NFL Draft. The primary reason why the Bengals were able to nab him in the second round was due to off-the-field concerns stemming from an assault he committed back in 2014.

Cincinnati will be on a short week after appearing on primetime tonight, so it remains to be seen whether Mixon will have enough time to recover from the injury for the team’s Week 14 game against the Bears.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Jags, Bengals

There was a team-wide brawl that took place between the Raiders and Broncos this afternoon, started by Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. The two have a had a go of it in the past, when both engaged each other during a game last season. However, this fight was capped off by Crabtree throwing and partly landing a punch at the head of Talib. Both players were immediately ejected from the game, which forced the veteran wideout to watch the rest of the contest from a suite, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com.

  • The Raiders receiving corps took a further hit in the AFC West battle as they lost Amari Cooper for the game with a concussion, Gutierrez also passes along. The 23-year-old wideout suffered the injury when he was hit in the head by Broncos safety Darian Stewart on a collision over the middle of the field. There appeared to be no malicious intent behind the play, even though there was a personal foul penalty given. Nevertheless, Oakland may be without both their top receivers for next week’s game because of what transpired today versus Denver. The Raiders would need extra contributions from the likes of Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton and Cordarrelle Patterson should Crabtree get suspended and Cooper not pass concussion protocol.
  • The Jaguars were hit with a concussion of their own as starting linebacker Telvin Smith did not return after suffering the injury, reports Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. Smith has been one of many key contributors in what has turned into perhaps the best defense in football. This situation will certainly be worth monitoring throughout the upcoming practice week.
  • Bengals running back Joe Mixon had the best game of his professional career in the team’s blowout of the Browns. The second round pick tallied over 160 yards from scrimmage, while averaging exactly five yards per carry. Mixon had already been getting a lot of work in recent weeks, but finally broke through with a performance that he and the team were waiting for. “It feels great,” said Mixon, “The offensive line was great and the receivers did a great job blocking on the perimeters and we just went out and finished.” (Quote courtesy of Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com)Look for Mixon to continue to be a big part of the Cincinnati offense in the last five games of the season.
  • In other Bengals news, backup quarterback A.J. McCarron was seen mingling with Browns head coach Hue Jackson and owner Jimmy Haslam before Sunday’s game. This is notable considering Cleveland tried to trade for the signal caller right before the deadline, but it’s not something that McCarron really focused on when discussing the interaction after the contest. “No point talking about the trade. It didn’t happen and it’s not going to happen now,” McCarron said. “I saw Mr. Haslam just to say hey to him. I’ve known Mr. Haslam through the whole draft process. I took a visit there. He’s a good Tennessee guy and you know the love between Tennessee and Alabama.” (Quote courtesy of Hobson).

AFC Notes: Mixon, Jets, Elway, Bell

Speaking with Sirius XM on Thursday, head coach Marvin Lewis delved into the Bengals’ decision to select controversial running back Joe Mixon with the 48th pick in the draft (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). The ex-Oklahoma Sooner was caught on video striking a woman back in 2014, which caused some teams to remove him from their draft boards. Not the Bengals, though, and Lewis explained that “a lot of time” and “a lot of research” went into picking Mixon. “Time spent with Joe. Time researching people around Joe. Joe’s past in East Bay [California],” he continued. “All those kinds of things that way. His past on campus at Oklahoma since the incident. So, there couldn’t be any other red flags to say, ‘Well, well, maybe…’ No, no, no. It had to be clean, and Joe knows that. He knows going forward, it has to stay clean all the time. He’s lived on the tip of the sword for three years now, and he’s got to continue to probably for the rest of his life.” If Mixon can avoid further off-field troubles, Lewis expects him to succeed in the pros, in part because “he’s off the charts talent-wise” and “as smart as a whip.”

More from the AFC:

  • In an interview with “Boomer & Carton” of WFAN on Thursday, Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall indicated that he requested his release from the rebuilding Jets in March because they’re not going anywhere in 2017 (via Brian Costello of the New York Post). “For me, I just knew I couldn’t be in that environment,” said Marshall, who holds the unfortunate distinction of being the league’s current longest-tenured player without a postseason appearance (11 years). “I think everyone knows the type of personality I am at this point in my career. I wouldn’t have made it through an entire season knowing that we didn’t have a chance. That’s all you want as a player — you just want a chance.” Long after they cut ties with Marshall, the Jets released fellow veterans Eric Decker and David Harris in June. Marshall took exception with the timing in both cases, arguing that “it was too late in free agency” and calling the Jets’ maneuverings with Decker and Harris “bad business.” Harris’ agents made it known after his release that they were unhappy with the Jets, but the 10-year veteran did end up latching on with the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots just over two weeks later.
  • Toward the end of May, Broncos general manager John Elway expressed confidence that he would sign a contract extension by the start of the season. No agreement has come to fruition in the month and a half since, but the Broncos and the contract-year executive “have maintained dialogue recently,” reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. Given that there’s no deal yet for Elway, the assumption is that discord or tension exists between the two sides, writes Jhabvala, but a team source shot down that notion.
  • The Steelers should not sign franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell to a long-term deal by Monday’s deadline, opines Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Running backs have short shelf lives, contends Zeise, who points out that the 25-year-old Bell has already accumulated 1,135 touches (908 rushes, 227 receptions) during his four seasons in the league. Adding to the risk, the league has suspended Bell twice, meaning he might not be trustworthy enough to extend. In Zeise’s estimation, then, what the Steelers should do is allow Bell to play the season under the $12.12MM tag and, if he fares well, tag him again for roughly $14.5MM in 2018. The Steelers could then let Bell walk when he’s exiting his prime. (For more on Bell, check out Zach Links’ piece from earlier this week.)

Bengals Sign Rookie RB Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon is officially a member of the Bengals. The team announced that the running back has inked his four-year rookie deal. Joe Mixon (vertical)

[RELATED: Why The Bengals Are A Fit For TE Gary Barnidge]

From a talent perspective, Mixon was one of the best running backs available in this year’s class. However, his baggage dragged him further down the boards of several teams and completely off the board for some. Mixon, of course, was caught on video striking a woman while on campus at Oklahoma. Mixon and the woman reached a civil settlement one week before the draft, but that was not enough to quell the concerns of teams around the league. Ultimately, the Bengals took a chance on Mixon at No. 48 overall.

“In making our decision, we took a risk. In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said. “We believe Joe has put this behind him and that he can turn into the player and community member that creates a plus for Cincinnati. We are going to do everything in our power to make this happen. Our hope is that time will prove that this opportunity is deserved, and perhaps – if given a chance – Joe can write a chapter in Cincinnati sports history that both he and Cincinnati can be proud of.”

Without the off-field concerns, Mixon would have been a mortal lock for the first round. In 2016, Mixon rushed for 1,274 yards and ten touchdowns on the ground for the Sooners, adding another 538 yards and five scores in the passing game.

Mixon is the ninth of the Bengals’ eleven draft picks to sign. Third round defensive end Jordan Willis and fifth round offensive lineman J.J. Dielman are the remaining stragglers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike Brown On Joe Mixon

The Bengals recently made Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon the No. 48 overall pick of the 2017 draft, a move that predictably sparked a great deal of conversation and controversy. Mixon’s assault of a female Oklahoma student several years ago caused a number of teams to remove him from their draft boards completely — a recent report indicated that only four clubs said they would consider drafting Mixon — and any team that did select him knew it would have to contend with significant public backlash.

Joe Mixon (vertical)

Cincinnati, no stranger to taking a chance on players with character concerns, decided to take the plunge in the second round of the draft. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are on the Bengals’ roster, but neither back reached the 4.0 yards-per-carry mark last season, Hill will be a free agent next offseason, and Bernard is coming off a serious injury, having torn his ACL in November. So Mixon, who was perhaps the most talented back in this year’s class, made sense from an on-field need and value perspective.

Nonetheless, the off-field concerns needed to be addressed, and Bengals owner and president Mike Brown wrote a letter to the team’s fanbase in an attempt to do that. Here are the highlights (courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer):

On the incident itself:

“Joe’s regrettable deed was that he struck a young woman, another student, shortly after arriving on campus in Norman, Oklahoma, three years ago. Joe and this young woman recently met in person, came to terms with the incident, and they agreed to resolve their differences so they could move forward with their lives.”

On Mixon’s response to the incident:

“Since the incident three years ago, Joe was suspended by the football team, pleaded guilty in court, and accepted the consequences of his actions. He later went on to become a good citizen in Norman, a popular teammate, a player respected by his coaches, and one of the most talented players in college football.”

On why the team selected Mixon:

“[H]e is a rare football talent, and his conduct over the past three years leads us to believe he can help us win football games and also become a productive member of this community.”

On Mixon’s future with the club:

“In making our decision, we took a risk. In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside. We believe Joe has put this behind him and that he can turn into the player and community member that creates a plus for Cincinnati. We are going to do everything in our power to make this happen. Our hope is that time will prove that this opportunity is deserved, and perhaps – if given a chance – Joe can write a chapter in Cincinnati sports history that both he and Cincinnati can be proud of.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Draft Notes: Mixon, Raiders, Dolphins

Some assorted draft notes from around the AFC…

  • Half the league didn’t have embattled running back Joe Mixon on their draft board, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Meanwhile, other evaluators believe he was the best overall running back if they were only evaluating on-field skills. ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter adds that only four teams said they would consider drafting Mixon. We can assume that one of those four organizations was the Bengals, who selected the running back in the second round.
  • The Raiders selected UConn safety Obi Melifonwu in the second round, although Rapoport tweets that the organization was close to selecting the defensive back in the first.
  • The Dolphins ultimately selected defensive end Charles Harris with the 22nd pick on Thursday night. However, if the Missouri product hadn’t been available, the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero says (via Twitter) that the team would have selected Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
  • The Broncos were rather committed to selecting Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker. In fact, general manager John Elway revealed that he was willing to trade up if he needed to. “We made a lot of attempts to get up in (second round) to trade for Walker,” Elway told Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link). “Things worked out.” Walker was selected by the Broncos with the 51st overall pick.
  • Good news out of Houston: Rapoport tweets that the Texans don’t believe running back D’Onta Foreman needs surgery on the stress fracture in his foot. The team found “no progressions in the injury at rechecks,” which apparently made them comfortable enough to select him in the third round.