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Quick Hits: Boyd, Tez, Dre Don't Open Week; Mixon Closes In On AFC Rush Crown


The Bengals began preparations Wednesday for Sunday's season finale in Pittsburgh (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) without three starters in wide receiver Tyler Boyd (knee), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder) and linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion) on the practice field. It's probably a long-shot that they're going to play. Also out was back-up cornerback Tony McRae (hamstring) after he sat out Sunday's game in Cleveland …

With Denver rookie Philip Lindsay undergoing wrist surgery to end his 1,036-yard season, running back Joe Mixon is the odds-on favorite to win the AFC rushing title and become the first Bengals to win a rushing championship since Paul Robinson led the AFL in 1968. Another rookie, the Browns' Nick Chubb, is the next closest pursuer and trails Mixon's 1,063 by 91 yards.

Images from the Bengals' Wednesday practice as the team prepares for its week 17 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both are headed into tough-sledding games against defenses that have allowed just one 100-yard rusher each all year. Chubb plays a Ravens defense ranked third against the rush and has gone six straight games not allowing 100 yards rushing total. Mixon faces the Steelers' sixth-ranked run defense that hasn't allowed 100 rushing total in four straight. The Titans' Derrick Henry is 97 yards shy and has two of the six biggest games of the year with 238 against Jacksonville and 170 against the Giants. That's going to be tough to match in an all-or-nothing game against the Colts' eighth-ranked rush defense …

Mixon, who missed two games, has a huge advantage in carries with 224. The only one else with at least 200 carries in the AFC is injured Steelers running back James Conner with 201. Seven NFC backs, led by the Cowboys' Zeke Elliott's 304, have more carries than Mixon …

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has a new conference scheduled for Monday, the day after the season. Does that mean he's back for a 17th year?

"I don't worry about next week," is all Lewis would say at his Wednesday press gathering. "This week is what's important, which is our preparation for the Steelers over the next four days."

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin recognizes one thing from the Bengals offense that had them beat with 1:19 left back on Oct. 14: "They are still handing that thing to Joe Mixon and I think he's No. 1 in the AFC in rushing. Obviously, we have respect for that, and we better start it there."

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