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Slants and screens: Mixon: I was trying to put them on my back; Day after; Eifert not ready, Tez is

Posted Sep 25, 2017

Rookie Joe Mixon likes getting the ball when it matters.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and everyone else got exactly what they wanted on Sunday. A 21-17 lead on the road with a third-and-one at the Packers 27 and rookie running back Joe Mixon ready for his 18th carry of the game behind tight end C.J. Uzomah in the “I” formation.

And then Mixon slipped as he bolted out of his stance.

“I’m sure he’s run that play many times in his career, in high school and college,” said Lewis with a how-could-that-happen chuckle on Monday afternoon. “And yesterday he slipped.”

Mixon shook his head and can’t recall it ever happening.

“To my knowledge I don’t think so,” said Mixon Monday, long after the false step began a very real eight-minute march from 1-2 to 0-3.

But the miscue can’t hide the excitement from that huddle in the last drive when the kid told them he was ready to lead them. On this drive that began with 9:43 left in the game at the Bengals 9, they believed when they gave it to him five times for 30 of his 62 yards.

“I was focused. I knew at that moment the team was riding and I was trying to put them on my back,” Mixon said. “I was just telling them, ‘I’m going to get us there.’ They trust and believe me. I was trying to do my thing. That whole last drive, I was more focused than I’ve ever been.”

It’s pretty clear where the Bengals are headed with their carries under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. In Lazor’s first game calling plays, Mixon had a season-high 18 carries and the five big lugs. And the first carry of OT that resulted in a two-yard loss. But it’s the thought that counts.

“I think the guys who have proven before they can be successful and help you win games, you've got to rely on them to do it,” Lazor said Monday. “A guy like Joe, we all expected he would start to rise to that.”

Mixon envisions more huddles like the one late in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field.

“I plan on in the future it still being like that,” Mixon said. “(The huddle) was perfect.”

DAY AFTER: The day after the National Anthem bowled the country over, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and one of the team’s spokesmen, safety George Iloka, decompressed with some thoughts. As they have ever since the controversy started last year, every Bengal stood for the anthem. On Sunday most linked arms. Some, like left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, chose to continue his weekly routine during the anthem and stood on the end of the sidelines by himself.

“As I told our guys, I was very proud of how they handled it. I thought their statements of what they did why, because they wanted to be respectful to the veterans, to our military, to our community here in Cincinnati and to our fans,” Lewis said. “And they’ve always stood — it’s been important to them to stand — because many of them have family members that are in the military or have been in the military. We’ve got guys whose fathers have a purple heart. It’s important to them, and that rang true throughout. I appreciate that.”

Iloka, a brave, articulate soul who has taken his thoughts into the forest of Twitter, said Monday that President Trump calling NFL players “SOBs,’ didn’t bother him.

“We hear worse from the fans. Especially after the way we lost the last two (home) games coming through that tunnel,” Iloka said. “That doesn’t mean anything to me. To me it’s more about punishing people for exercising their right. Now, regular people, civilians, employers, your boss, my boss, whoever it may be, it’s different. A politician, a government official telling the public to essentially punish their citizens who exercise their right. That kind of throws it off the course.

“I know those soldiers went overseas and fought for my rights … The same rights they fought and they died for, the president is trying to punish me for it. Why are you going to fight for it if you’re just going to punish us for exercising it? It’s just different where it came from. If your employer says they don’t want you to do this or that, that’s a whole different discussion.”

Iloka was asked if the players had received directives about not taking a knee and he stressed the uniform response.

“There have been discussions,” he said. “What we ended up doing yesterday was a team effort and that was something we all came together and decided to do.”

EIFERT IN LIMBO, TEZ BACK: Tight end Tyler Eifert surfaced in the locker room Monday after getting his back checked out last week and missing Sunday’s game. He politely declined to talk to the media until he’s back playing. So it’s not now and he says he doesn’t know when.

But everyone knew Vontaze Burfict was back to work Monday, one day after he turned 27, as he marked the end of his three-game NFL suspension.

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