CINCINNATI — Rookie running back Joe Mixon seems to know he’s good. It hasn’t taken long for the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals to see that as well.

Take Tuesday, for example: In the last padded practice prior to Friday’s preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mixon essentially embarrassed fellow rookie Carl Lawson, who has been no slouch during camp.

If Mixon has been the star offensive rookie, Lawson certainly has been the star defensive rookie. But Mixon got the best of him on that particular play.

Lawson, the outside linebacker, tried to follow Mixon as he rounded the corner, but he lost his footing and fell to the turf as Mixon raced down the sideline for a touchdown.

Mixon took it a step further. He jogged back slowly, gave visiting fans high-fives and screamed, “Too easy!” That continued until a coach told him to get back to the sideline.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who left practice early to deal with a knee issue, wasn’t there to see that.

Over the years, Lewis has made it clear he doesn’t like individuals putting themselves over the team. This summer, he even said he wasn’t a fan of the NFL’s relaxed stance on celebration penalties.

Lewis’ stance caused quite a stir because former Bengals receiver Chad Johnsonwas known for having some of the more outlandish celebrations in the league. Johnson, who was with the Bengals for 10 seasons, spent many of those years driving Lewis crazy with his antics. Despite that, the two maintain a relationship to this day.

Even Lewis might have shook his head and smiled on Tuesday. What he likes to see is enthusiasm, and Mixon has that, along with a strong work ethic. Lewis hopes both of those things never go away.

“From the very first rookie camp here in Cincinnati, you felt that, but you aren’t sure because it’s a very limited exposure. Now that’s a day-to-day thing with the ups and downs in camp — being tired, being asked to run and finish every play. He likes to do that,” Lewis said. “He likes to run down that field like he is scoring a touchdown, and we are going to give him a lot of opportunities to do that.

“That’s just part of his makeup, and that’s good. He can never lose that. That’s the other part of it, you don’t want him to lose that. I hope he keeps that enthusiasm that he has now. We have to continue with that because he is still a very young guy.”

Lewis said he wants to see a few things from Mixon on Friday, but one of the biggest priorities is protecting the quarterback.

“He’s very natural at the other stuff. And then he is going to get an opportunity to protect the quarterback,” Lewis said. “The rest of the stuff he does very naturally, like running or catching. But [I want to see] his pad level, and making sure his tracks are correct. Those are the things we are going to continue to evaluate and make sure he gets up to speed on and stays consistent. So far, he has been very good with that, and I don’t expect that to change.”

CINCINNATI — Rookie running back Joe Mixon seems to know he’s good. It hasn’t taken long for the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals to see that as well.

Take Tuesday, for example: In the last padded practice prior to Friday’s preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mixon essentially embarrassed fellow rookie Carl Lawson, who has been no slouch during camp.

If Mixon has been the star offensive rookie, Lawson certainly has been the star defensive rookie. But Mixon got the best of him on that particular play.

Lawson, the outside linebacker, tried to follow Mixon as he rounded the corner, but he lost his footing and fell to the turf as Mixon raced down the sideline for a touchdown.

Mixon took it a step further. He jogged back slowly, gave visiting fans high-fives and screamed, “Too easy!” That continued until a coach told him to get back to the sideline.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who left practice early to deal with a knee issue, wasn’t there to see that.

Over the years, Lewis has made it clear he doesn’t like individuals putting themselves over the team. This summer, he even said he wasn’t a fan of the NFL’s relaxed stance on celebration penalties.

Lewis’ stance caused quite a stir because former Bengals receiver Chad Johnsonwas known for having some of the more outlandish celebrations in the league. Johnson, who was with the Bengals for 10 seasons, spent many of those years driving Lewis crazy with his antics. Despite that, the two maintain a relationship to this day.

Even Lewis might have shook his head and smiled on Tuesday. What he likes to see is enthusiasm, and Mixon has that, along with a strong work ethic. Lewis hopes both of those things never go away.

“From the very first rookie camp here in Cincinnati, you felt that, but you aren’t sure because it’s a very limited exposure. Now that’s a day-to-day thing with the ups and downs in camp — being tired, being asked to run and finish every play. He likes to do that,” Lewis said. “He likes to run down that field like he is scoring a touchdown, and we are going to give him a lot of opportunities to do that.

“That’s just part of his makeup, and that’s good. He can never lose that. That’s the other part of it, you don’t want him to lose that. I hope he keeps that enthusiasm that he has now. We have to continue with that because he is still a very young guy.”

Lewis said he wants to see a few things from Mixon on Friday, but one of the biggest priorities is protecting the quarterback.

“He’s very natural at the other stuff. And then he is going to get an opportunity to protect the quarterback,” Lewis said. “The rest of the stuff he does very naturally, like running or catching. But [I want to see] his pad level, and making sure his tracks are correct. Those are the things we are going to continue to evaluate and make sure he gets up to speed on and stays consistent. So far, he has been very good with that, and I don’t expect that to change.”

Source: ESPN
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