LAS VEGAS - Despite a bye week and practicing full the last two days, Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate was still inactive for Sunday's game against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium with a thigh issue that has sidelined him now for the last three games.
The Bengals also made Trenton Irwin inactive, but still leaving them with five active receivers, among them the Big Three, special teams maven Stanley Morgan and Mike Thomas. The Bengals talked about running the ball the last two weeks and if they do use their three tight end package, Mason Schreck is the guy behind C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample in his 2021 debut that is his 23rd NFL game. It's an alignment they used 24 times in the season's first nine games.
With Schreck coming off the practice squad to replace Mitchell Wilcox (COVID list), Bengals head coach Zac Taylor deactivated five players in all with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, tackle Fred Johnson and defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin rounding out the list.
It also means two of their newest players make their Bengals debut, most likely primarily on special teams. Veteran safety Mike Thomas, signed to the practice squad Oct. 5 and promoted to the roster a few weeks ago, plays in his 98th NFL game. Linebacker Clay Johnston, a second-year player claimed off waivers by the Panthers during the bye, is playing in his ninth NFL game.
The Bengals arrive at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for a Week 11 showdown against the Raiders. Presented by On Location/
MIXON RAIDS RAIDERS: Uzomah was one of the guys talking about running the ball last week and how they want to get room for running back Joe Mixon. And Mixon is rested. He hasn't carried more than 14 times since he had 94 yards on 18 carries in Detroit on Oct. 17. Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan spent the two weeks of the bye emphasizing short yardage, an area where the Bengals haven't been able to get much of a push this season.
"Third-and-shorts need to be a huge emphasis for us," Uzomah said. "I know coach Callahan has been talking about that and preaching that before we were let go for the bye. And that's something we're really going to harp on this week and moving forward."
In his two career games against the Raiders Mixon has averaged 107.5 yards on 5.1 yards per carry. Despite the bye week and the light load in the past month, Mixon is eighth in NFL rushing and is on pace for a career-high 1,201 yards.
Taylor wants to run the ball. But he also wants to get the lead and then keep the ball away from teams.
It figures to be a historic day for Mixon no matter what. When he gets five yards rushing he'll become the fastest Bengal to reach 4,000 rush yards and 1,000 receiving yards when he does it in his 60th game. And he'll be the sixth to rush for 4,000 yards as a Bengal and first since Cedric Benson in 2011.
OTHER NUMBERS: Quarterback Joe Burrow comes in on pace for 38 touchdown passes and 4,716 yards, both Bengals records. Even though he's cooled off the last two weeks, rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is on pace for a club-record 1,577 yards.