The Cincinnati Bengals will be gearing up for training camp soon, so what should we expect from running back Chris Evans as he heads into year two on the Bengals roster?
Tough, physical, and shifty are all words that describe running back Chris Evans. Selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round in last year’s draft, he now has a year’s experience in the system, including a trip to the Super Bowl. What should we expect from this incredible athlete?
Let’s start by looking at some background that helped him get here and create these traits.
While at the University of Michigan, Evans had remarkably productive years there until he found himself with some academic issues. Refusing to quit, he was resilient and learned from these mistakes to finish his senior year. His skill set allowed him to get invited to the Senior Bowl, where he showed off his talents and ultimately caught the eye of head coach Zac Taylor.
Making the Bengals roster, Evans proved he was willing to do anything to improve the team. He gained the coach’s confidence with his hard running and pass-catching abilities as he was targeted 17 times for 10 yards a catch last season.
Burrow was so confident about Evans creating separation and getting open that he went with him for a 24-yard pass in Detroit for Evans’s first touchdown. Burrow even talked about it after the game.
“I want to mention Chris Evans. He’s just getting better and better every single week,” Burrow said. “You see what he can do in the passing game. He got one-on-one and really ran a great route and scored a touchdown for us. And then on the big throw to Ja’Marr in the second half, he picked up a safety pressure off the edge that was really unbelievable.”
Soon after, injuries hit, and special teams coach Darrin Simmons needed to try someone to return kickoffs, and with Evan’s quick-cut ability, he was selected. Having just one kickoff experience as a freshman doing it at Michigan, Evans quickly filled in but did not know for sure what to do; it was a learning process. During Dan Hoard’s interview on the Bengals Booth Podcast, Evans talked about his experience as a kick returner.
“This time last year, I wasn’t even on the depth chart at kickoff return but bodies going down, injuries left and right. You know what I am saying; they told me that is what I need to do, so I stepped up and did it.”
Evans went on to say, “Darrin [Simmons] looks at kickoff return as the first play of offense, so if I can get Joey B in the right position, you know what I am saying, I might be a difference-maker.”
As a Bengal fan, I feel confident that Evans can get the job done when he returns kickoffs. He is such a dynamic player that he can make big plays when the ball is in his hands.
Bengals Roster: Expect Chris Evans to have a more significant role in 2022
After last year’s rookie production of 17 carries for 77 yards, 15 catches for 150, and three touchdowns, one of those being a touchdown in the Super Bowl, Evans is on track to push for a more prominent role in year two.
It all starts with getting his body ready for the preseason, so he focused on training mentality and physically this offseason. Being a team player means doing the right things, and Evans puts himself in a position to do what it takes to help the team.
In his interview with Hoard, Evans explained, “I am willing to do whatever they need me to do. If they need me to hold for Evan [McPherson], if they need me to punt, whatever they need me to do to help the team win.”
Given more opportunities in a pass-heavy offense, Evans could leapfrog Samaje Perine to be the number two running back behind Joe Mixon. He could see more playing time in third-down situations while making plays on the outside or using his shiftiness and speed to make something out of nothing.
Regardless, if Evans is running back kickoffs or catching passes from Burrow out of the backfield, he is proving to be a valuable piece to this team.