Bengals eye-opener: running back Joe Mixon in 2nd round
CINCINNATI (AP) Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is headed to Cincinnati, which added to its reputation for taking chances on players with significant off-field issues.
The Bengals traded down in the second round on Friday and took Mixon with the 48th overall pick, putting them back in the spotlight as a place known for giving second and third chances.
The 5-foot-10 running back was one of the top players available at his position, but teams were wary because of his history. Mixon was suspended for his freshman season after punching a female student and breaking bones in her face.
The crowd in Philadelphia booed when Mixon's selection was announced. Coach Marvin Lewis said the team was aware of how the public would react to the pick.
''For some of our fans, probably (they'll) pause for a second,'' Lewis said. ''But this thing's got to move forward, and he's got to move on. He's lived with this since the day it's occurred.''
Bengals owner Mike Brown is known for taking troubled players. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict signed with Cincinnati as a free agent after no team was willing to draft him in 2012, and he's been suspended for his history of illegal hits. His hit to Antonio Brown's head set up the Steelers' winning field goal in a 2015 playoff game.
Cornerback Adam ''Pacman'' Jones was arrested again in the offseason and faces misdemeanor charges for an altercation at a downtown hotel, but the team has stuck with him. A felony charge for spitting on a nurse at the county jail has been dropped. Jones could be suspended again by the NFL.
And now all the attention will be on their new running back, who fills a hole in the offense and puts the team's reputation back on the line. The Bengals were sold on him after spending time with him, and Mixon was convinced they'd take a chance on him.
''After going there and having a good talk with coach Lewis and the owner, I felt they felt very comfortable,'' Mixon said on a conference call. ''I was very straight-up with them.''
Mixon punched Amelia Molitor and broke bones in her face during an altercation in July 2014, prompting his one-year suspension. He returned and had two impressive seasons, turning into an All-Big 12 performer while setting a school record for all-purpose yards in a season.
Cincinnati needed a running back after Rex Burkhead - who also was used as a slot receiver - left for New England. Plus, Giovani Bernard is recovering from a torn ACL, raising doubts about depth at the position. Jeremy Hill is the starter.
The running game was sluggish last season behind an offensive line that struggled to open holes and protect quarterback Andy Dalton. The running game has ranked in the middle of the pack each of the last two seasons after coming in at No. 6 in 2014, so it wasn't a surprise that they went for a running back.
The choice of Mixon created a stir among fans. Video of his punch was released in December.
''I don't know who isn't disgusted with what they saw,'' Lewis said. ''But that was one day in the young man's life. He gets the opportunity to move forward and write his script from here on.''
The Bengals have taken offensive players in the first two rounds. They chose receiver John Ross from Washington with the ninth overall pick on Thursday night.
DENNARD EXTENDED: As the second round was starting, the Bengals exercised their fifth-year option on cornerback Darqueze Dennard through the 2018 season. Dennard was the 24th overall pick in 2014.
SNOOP SUPPORT: Among those who have sent congratulations to Ross - Snoop Dogg , who was his coach in a youth football league in California. They remain close, and Ross visited his house last week. ''You make the Snoop Youth Football League look great every time you step out, every time you do an interview, every time you make a play,'' the entertainer said in a video message.
NEXT UP: The Bengals still need to get help for their defensive line and linebacker group, which struggled to get pressure on the quarterback last season. They passed on several highly rated defensive players in the first round to take Ross with the ninth overall pick.
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