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Jaunty Joe Mixon Comes Into Training Camp Chasing Rudi

Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Mixon carries the ball in a drill during a practice at the NFL football team's training facility in Cincinnati, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Joe Mixon, off his career year of 1,205 yards and the most by a Bengals running back in a dozen years, is jaunting into this training camp with another number in mind.

"I just want to break the season rushing record here," Mixon said before Thursday's practice. "If anything else comes from that, even better."

That would be Rudi Johnson's 1,458 yards for the 2005 AFC North champs and he knows what he has to do to get there. And he'll get his shots. Since he came into the NFL in 2017, only Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry have more carries in the NFL.

"Just being patient. Just being disciplined in all my reads. That's really all it is," Mixon said. "We left a lot of yards and big plays and touchdowns on the table. As much as we had, I left out some yards and touchdowns last year and I'm going to get them back this year. Hopefully we'll see that happen."

He has no problem recalling his reaction back in March when the Bengals signed up a new right side of the offensive line with center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La'el Collins.

"I was happy as hell," Mixon said. "Additions like that. High character guys like that. Energy guys. That's a great fit. Especially with how those guys block and play football. That's something you want as a running back. To be able to get those guys in here and to build that chemistry, it's a great feeling."

Mixon has shelved the not so-great feeling of last Feb. 13 in the Super Bowl.

"It's not really a big thing right now for me, being a whole new season," Mixon said. "So I'm really not worried about last season. Of course, it took me awhile to get over it, but I'm not worried about last year. Last year was last year. At the end of the day, it was a great experience. A blessing to be there. We didn't finish the job. We're going to come back and hopefully get it right."

What Mixon is thinking about is how opposing defenses are going to try and stop quarterback Joe Burrow's 1,000-yard performers in triplicate with him and wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

"At some point in time," Mixon said, "they have to pick their poison either playing eight in the box and trying to stop the run or at least trying to stop the run or play two-high safeties."

The two-high leaves what running backs call "a light box." Mixon is confident his new line can help him do some heavy damage against the light box.

"Hell, yeah," Mixon said. "We should be able to block the light box with the guys that we have."

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