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Joe Mixon gets warm reception in debut for Bengals

From ESPN - August 11, 2017

CINCINNATI -- It might be odd that one of the biggest cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday night came on a simple 5-yard gain by Joe Mixon.

But considering Mixon has the potential to be one of the most exciting rookies to suit up for Cincinnati in several years, it makes a little more sense.

The debut of the Bengals' second-round pick was a success. Mixon played one half, rushing six times for 31 yards and catching a pass for 11 yards.

It was the reception that was most impressive. Mixon took a short pass from quarterback AJ McCarron, stiff-armed the first defender and shook him off as he dove for the tackle. Mixon wove around the next two defenders, then finally was taken down.

The Bengals lined Mixon up as the lone back, in the I-formation behind H-back Ryan Hewitt, and also split him out wide as a wide receiver. He also picked up a rushing defender in pass protection on third-and-2 in the red zone.

"Hes really taken to it, and our coaches have done a great job getting him up to speed," Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin told the announcing crew during the game. "Theres a lot to learn in that position, and you have to prove to be worthy in pass protection before theyre going to trust you long term. And so were working through that with him. And obviously the run skills are natural, and his instincts are natural. Hes got all the physical qualities you look for."

Mixon was the center of controversy leading up to the draft because of a 2014 incident in which he punched a woman. Mixon accepted a plea deal in the criminal case stemming from the incident. Surveillance video of the altercation, which showed Mixon throwing a punch that fractured multiple bones in Amelia Molitor's face, was released by Mixon's attorneys in December, more than two years after the incident.

QB depth chart: The pecking order clearly is Andy Dalton, McCarron, and then Jeff Driskel. Thats not going to change anytime soon. Dalton looked fairly sharp on his only series of the game, completing 4 of 5 passes for 38 yards. However, Dalton's night ended with an interception after Vernon Hargreaves jumped in front of Brandon LaFell to intercept the ball.

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