Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon Looks Ready to Carry Load Until Ja'Marr Chase Gets Back
Joe Mixon made sure the Bengals' offense caught fire in its second game without Ja'Marr Chase.
Setting the franchise record with five touchdowns in one game, Chase led the Bengals (5-4) to a 42-21 victory over the Panthers that kept Cincinnati on Baltimore's heels in the AFC North. Mixon had 211 yards from scrimmage – 153 yards rushing and 58 yards receiving, scoring four rushing touchdowns and catching a touchdown pass from Joe Burrow.
There was concern in Cincinnati about how the Bengals would cope without Chase, their star wide receiver who was sidelined for the second straight game with a hip injury. The Bengals struggled in Week 8 without Chase, scoring a season-low 13 points in a one-sided loss to the Browns. But Cincinnati adjusted against the Panthers by featuring Mixon, who had no problem being the focal point of the offense.
"I'm just very excited to come through and deliver for my teammates," Mixon said via Ben Baby of ESPN.com. "It's been long overdue."
Mixon rushed for a season-high 153 yards, his first 100-yard game of the season. The Bengals have a bye in Week 10 as do the Ravens (5-3), who are threatening to turn the division into a two-team race. Chase isn't expected to play in Week 11 when the Bengals visit the Steelers, but Mixon could be coming to life at just the right time for Cincinnati.
"He hasn't had the production I know he's wanted," quarterback Joe Burrow said. "Today, a big breakout game for him. Hopefully we can carry that momentum after this bye week."
Cleveland Browns: GM Says Deshaun Watson Will Start First Game After 11-Game Suspension
The Cleveland Browns won't wait to start Deshaun Watson after his 11-game suspension ends.
General Manager Andrew Berry said Watson will start Dec. 4 against his former team, the Houston Texans, the first game he's eligible to play after his 11-game suspension. Watson was suspended for alleged sexual misconduct with more than two dozen message therapists and can begin practicing Nov. 14. Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that Watson has met all the conditions of his suspension, including undergoing treatment, and was on track to be reinstated Nov. 28.
The Browns (3-5) had a bye in Week 9, and will have six games left when Watson returns, including a Week 15 matchup in Cleveland against the Ravens.
Berry said Watson was in excellent shape and has been working with personal quarterback coach Quincy Avery. Watson has been permitted to be at Browns headquarters since Oct. 10 to participate in meetings and conditioning work.
"He's getting the work that he needs to do to get prepared," Berry said via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. "In a couple weeks, we'll be in that world where we're getting him ready to play and we'll handle it appropriately."
The Browns have three games left with Jacoby Brissett as their starter against the Dolphins, Bills, and Bucs.
"Jacoby has been everything we had hoped when we signed him," Berry said. "I think that he has given us an opportunity and more to win the game in every one of his starts with maybe save the exception of one."
Mike Tomlin Likes Getting Second-Rounder for Chase Claypool
The Steelers (2-6) made a trade during their bye in Week 9, sending wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Bears in exchange for a second-round pick. With Diontae Johnson and George Pickens leading their wide receiver depth chart, and young tight end Pat Freiermuth, Head Coach Mike Tomlin felt comfortable dealing Claypool.
"We've got some games left to play and we feel really comfortable with the depth that we have at Chase's position, the wide receiver position, and more specifically, we're really comfortable with our playmaking ability inside," Tomlin said via ProFootballTalk.
"Not only at the wideout position, but that's a space that we're really comfortable with, with Pat Freiermuth as well being a significant component of our attack on the interior portions of the field. So, that depth coupled with Pat's presence and development is what allowed us to feel comfortable in terms of moving him and acquiring that draft capital."
Steven Sims, an undrafted wide receiver in 2019 who has been getting more snaps, is a player Tomlin mentioned as someone to watch.
"He's been making plays when called upon, and that's what I mean when I'm talking about that I'm comfortable with the emerging depth at our receiver position," Tomlin said. "He's been making plays when called upon, and I think based on what we've seen thus far, it's reasonable to expect that to continue."