CINCINNATI — The Bengals released veteran running back Giovani Bernard last month. They saved over $4 million in cap space with the move. They also cleared the way for star running back Joe Mixon to become an every down back this season.
Mixon, 24, topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2018 and 2019, but didn't reach that mark last season due to a foot injury. He missed the final 10 games of the season, but he's 100% healthy.
Look for the fifth-year running back to be on the field more this season.
“I don’t want Joe (Mixon) to leave the field, personally," Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said on Sunday during the 2021 NFL Draft. "I think he’s up to that challenge. He has some things he has to improve pass-protection-wise. Joe shouldn’t come off the field, he should be on the field every down. He’s aware of that... Ultimately I see Joe as the primary guy to start in all facets of the running game.”
The Bengals signed Mixon to a four-year, $48 million extension last August. Expecting him to carry more of the load is reasonable, especially considering most people in the organization believe he hasn't reached his full potential.
He's never been on the field for more than 60% of the Bengals' offensive snaps in a season. That should change in 2021.
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