With training camp right around the corner, the Cincinnati Bengals have several position battles taking place. Running back isn’t going to be a highly competitive one, as Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine look to be locks as the No. 1 and 2 options.
Mixon is entering year five with the Bengals and is looking to bounce back after appearing in just six games last year due to injury. In 2018 and 2019, however, Mixon rushed for over 1,100 yards and had 11 total touchdowns in 2018. He’ll look to get back to form in year five.
Perine is entering his third season in Cincinnati (second full season) and Bengals fans saw him in action last year due to Mixon’s injury. He had 301 rushing yards and three touchdowns through 16 total games and one start. He’s a good backup to have at the position and the Bengals will likely roll with him there again in 2021.
Here’s how the running back depth chart looks for the Cincinnati Bengals heading into training camp.
- Joe Mixon
- Samaje Perine
- Chris Evans
- Trayveon Williams
- Pooka Williams
- Jacques Patrick
Mixon and Perine are safe but the other four men listed here will have to battle it out for the third-string job, and potentially a fourth-string role depending on how many running backs the team wants to carry.
Evans is a sixth-round rookie who could provide a burst to the offense. His numbers at Michigan didn’t pop off the page but the Bengals saw enough in him to spend a late-round draft pick on him and he’ll be given every opportunity to win the third-string gig in the Queen City.
Trayveon Williams is entering his third year with the Bengals, which some might think gives him an edge, but he hasn’t shown a ton to this point. He rushed for 157 yards last year through 10 games, so there hasn’t been much of a sample size from him.
Pooka Williams is an undrafted free agent out of Kansas who, if he makes the roster, probably won’t be listed as a running back. He could be more utilized as a return specialist, which was a storyline surrounding him earlier this summer. I’m big on Williams personally, but I understand that he’s a rookie who went undrafted so it’ll be an uphill battle for him to make a dent in the running back room.
Patrick hasn’t played a snap in the NFL just yet so he’s at the bottom of the totem pole as far as running back competition goes. Unless he explodes onto the scene in training camp and preseason, I wouldn’t expect much from him.
The Bengals are in a good spot when it comes to their running backs because they have their starter and backup ready to roll. Mixon’s injury could be a concern but if he’s fully healthy, it should set the run game up for another successful season.