Cincinnati Bengals: Taylor OK with Mixon’s post-Super Bowl comments

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon was a focal point of the passing game during Saturdays practice inside at Paul Brown Stadium, seemingly giving the fans what they wanted to see. Much was said about the Bengals leaving Mixon off the field in a two-minute drill situation at the end of their Super Bowl loss to the Rams when all they needed was a yard to keep the last drive going.

On Saturday, Mixon received several passes from Brandon Allen out of the backfield and had a dazzling one-handed catch deep along the sideline that he managed to keep in bounds.

Samaje Perine served as the third-down back much of the 2021 season, as the use of Mixon was considered a more obvious running play. However, he’s been working the past couple of years to improve his production as a blocker and pass catcher, and Mixon told a small group of reporters in an interview after Friday’s practice that he believes he could have helped the Bengals keep that decisive Super Bowl drive alive.

“At the end of the day, whoever is out there I have no doubt in my mind that they should make the play,” Mixon said in his Friday interview, according to The Athletic. “Coach got caught up in running two-minute and through the playoffs, he had me in twominute. It was a caught-up-in-the-moment thing. I really should have took initiative on myself and just been like, ‘Hey, I’m coming in.’ It was the heat of the moment. Third down, third-and-1, obviously I want to run in, but when we are going no-huddle we got to hurry up and keep it going. It sucks. Obviously, I know I would have been able to help and do whatever to get that 1 yard, but it’s over with, it’s last year, and we are in 2022. We are trying to do whatever we can do to repeat and get right back in that same situation. And when we are in that situation, you … sure know I’ll be in.”

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Saturday in his post-practice press conference he and Mixon had spoken about his playing time in Super Bowl LVI, and Taylor said he “absolutely should feel passion about that situation” and that’s “one of the reasons why you want to get back to those moments and keep it going.”

Taylor didn’t feel Mixon crossed a line with any of his comments and noted he appreciated how Mixon handled the situation.

“You could see that handled a million different ways,” Taylor said. “That’s just Joe. Joe has always been a favorite of every one that’s been around him, just talking to his college coaches, Cale Gundy and those guys that recruited him and coached him. He’s one of their all-time favorites. He makes an impression on this entire building. You see him going around signing autographs during the practice today. That’s not for show. That’s not just because there’s people. I see that when I go to his camp in Cincinnati. I’m sure people see it at his camp in California. That’s just his interaction with everybody he comes cross. He’s one of the most genuine players I’ve ever been around. He’s definitely appreciated by everyone here in this organization.”

Pressed further about how Mixon essentially said he should have checked himself into the game, Taylor said they have “moved on” from that.

“I do appreciate how he has handled himself,” Taylor said. “It can be an emotional moment.”

Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan have said in the past they don’t plan to change much in terms of how many targets Mixon will get, but that’s mainly because committing to that could mean taking away plays from some of the talented receivers on the team.

Mixon had plenty to be happy about with his usage Saturday, and Taylor did trust Mixon with the microphone as the team welcomed a crowd of 28,283 fans in attendance to watch their only practice scheduled in the stadium. In his speech to the fans, Mixon declared the Bengals will get back to the Super Bowl and win it.

Asked about why Mixon was chosen to speak, Taylor said he was an easy choice.

“He’s a guy that brings a lot of energy,” Mixon said. “That’s what you are looking for when you are talking to the crowd. We haven’t voted captains yet but he was a captain on the team last year. He’s a team leader. Practices with a lot of energy. The fans love him. He brings a lot of energy when he’s on the mic. That’s a pretty easy selection.”

NOTES: Taylor said there is no update on Joe Burrow’s timetable to return following his appendectomy last week, but he’s spoken to his parents and is trying to give the quarterback some privacy. Right now, Burrow is just missing the offense installation phase, which he is already familiar with, and Taylor doesn’t doubt he won’t miss a beat once he is ready to get back to work. … Kicker Evan McPherson ended the practice with an impressive 65-yard field goal that he estimated could have gone another five, seven or 10 yards.

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