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Underrated Joe Mixon could be focal point of Bengals’ second half

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Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has flown under the proverbial radar this year.

Mixon has played in nine games, rushing for 636 yards and seven scores on a 4.2 average and he’s scored twice as a receiver. He’s got the fourth-best grade among running backs at PFF, the third-best rushing grade and the fourth-best yardage-after-contact count.

But teammates want to see even more from the running game after the bye. Here’s tight end C.J. Uzomah, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com:

“I think it’s a different mindset, right? It’s power football. We’ve got to be able to move the ball and say, ‘Screw it’ for two yards and put our bodies on the line and again, that’s something we’ve been talking about. We’re looking forward to righting that ship.”

There’s a stigma right now that backs aren’t valuable and the passing game is more important. But players and coaches alike have made it pretty clear the running game will play a big role over the season’s second half.

Having a back as talented as Mixon makes that easy to do. If the ground game can grind defenses down in cold-weather games, good things should happen.

Zac Taylor hit on these themes recently:

“That’s an emphasis for us for sure. I don’t think it’s been stellar. It hasn’t been poor. Our best rushing performances have come when we’ve had the lead in the second half and we’ve been able to ride the running game through to victory.”

Mixon’s had more than 200 carries in a season just twice since 2017, but his efficiency numbers suggest getting him near that total should mean good things, too.

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