Perine, who was Mixon’s teammate at Oklahoma, enjoyed three of his best games when the team needed him to step up. He had three touchdown receptions against Pittsburgh, ran effectively most of the game against Tennessee and amassed 155 yards from scrimmage in a 27-24 win over Kanas City on Sunday, averaging 5.1 yards per carry (21 attempts,106 yards).
Mixon said he expected nothing less from a teammate he’s played alongside for almost six seasons, and he was glad to see Perine “do his thing.” Perine was drafted by Washington in 2017, but landed in Cincinnati midway through the 2019 campaign, and the two spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons together at OU.
Asked what it meant to hear Taylor’s vote of confidence in him as the starter, Mixon said he didn’t expect anything would change upon his return.
“I guess clarification for y’all (media), but at the same time I truly felt like with Perine being there, he’s definitely a great 1-2 back with me,” Mixon said. “He’s definitely been a complimentary back with me. He’s been that since we’ve been at OU, it’s always been that 1-2 punch. People see what he’s able to do. We’re going to keep going forward and keep putting up numbers and keep doing what we do.”
There couldn’t be two more different running backs carrying the load for the Bengals, but they both believe that’s why they are such a good combination.
Mixon is energetic and talkative and known for his vision, patience, cutting ability and burst of speed running the ball. Perine is quiet and likes to avoid attention. He powers through defenders with the help of an impressive stiff arm, and the Bengals love what he brings in pass protection.
“You’re not gonna get too much flashy stuff from me,” Perine said. “It’s just if I can’t run around you, I run through you and it is what it is. I mean, you can stand up to it if you want to, but it’s gonna wear on you.”
As much as the Bengals like Perine’s consistency, he’s still no Mixon. Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan compared it to not really wanting to replace Ja’Marr Chase with Trenton Irwin, as well as Irwin has played in limited opportunities, and noted “there’s a recency bias” with how Perine has played lately.
Perine isn’t worried about whether he’s earned more carries or not.
“I helped the team get a couple of wins, can never be mad at that, but you know, I’m just taking it all in stride, just doing whatever I can,” Perine said. “Just keeping my head down because you hear all the talks outside of the building. One week, they want you gone and the next week, they love you. I’m just happy to be in the position that we’re in, and then a playoff run in here in the back stretch of the season. I just can’t wait for the next one.”
Mixon can’t wait to get back on the field after feeling like he could have played against the Chiefs. He had struggled with some vision problems with the concussion but was “just barely” fighting through it at the end of last week when Taylor decided to just shut him down and wait.
“As much as I wanted to go and felt like I can contribute, I feel like they made the best decision for everybody,” Mixon said. “Like I said, Perine, he did a great job of stepping up and filling in. I’m glad to see that. I’m glad he did that. Coming this week, just gotta get ready for the Browns. It’s a big one.”
Browns at Bengals, 1 p.m., Ch. 7, 12; 700, 1290, 1530, 95.7, 102.7, 104.7