Chris Evans proved why he should be RB2 in preseason opener
Chris Evans shined bright in the Cincinnati Bengals’ preseason opener. He needs to be the team’s RB2 when the season gets underway.
Second-year running back Chris Evans had a short leash in the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals Friday night and showed how many improvements he has made throughout last season and the off-season. Evans is currently listed as the third running back on the depth chart behind Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.
It’s evident that Mixon has the starting job under locks after what he has done for the Cincinnati Bengals since he’s been drafted. Still, many think it’s time that Evans starts getting the recognition he deserves and for the conversation to come up about the possibility of him surpassing Perine as the RB2.
(All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference)
Right out of the gate on the Bengals’ first drive vs. the Cardinals, Evans capped off a break-away 65-yard run. However, it got called back. Nonetheless, seeing those types of plays in a preseason game, regardless of whether it’s called back or not, is very important.
It put his skill set on full display. Last season, we often saw Evans as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Not so much as a runner. Seeing him take snaps in the backfield and hand-offs through the gaps and along the edge was a great sign and showed how much of a leap he has taken from year one to year two.
You won’t be astonished by anything Evans if you just check the stat sheet (due to his run being called back). But if you had your eyes on the TV and watched this game, everyone saw what he is capable of doing. He had a 41-yard return as the kick returner, he rushed eight times, and he caught a pass for nine yards before they pulled him and started playing Trayveon Williams and Jacques Patrick.
Evans should get some continued run throughout the final two preseason games the Bengals have and might get more of a usage rate but it might be a good sign if Zac Taylor decides to hold him out. It shows that he is valued, and Taylor sees him as someone who can genuinely contribute to the offense right away this season, and that is precisely what could lead him into a position to pass Perine on the depth chart.
It is unlikely that Chris Evans will take the reigns as the RB2 by the end of the preseason but as the season rolls along, if he plays well enough to earn the opportunity to get playing time and snaps with the offense. It will slowly decrease the snaps Perine is seeing, which is the process of Evans eclipsing Samaje Perine for that spot.
With Chris Evans firmly in the spotlight could mean negative things for a guy like Trayveon Williams, who is now at the point of his career where if he doesn’t start proving something soon, he could find himself not making the 53-man roster, especially if Jacques Patrick starts outplaying him.
Patrick was one of just two players who found the end zone for the Bengals in the matchup. A lot of it will be determined on how many running backs the Bengals choose to take on the roster come Week 1 against the Steelers, and three off those spots at the position already seem pretty much intact with Mixon, Perine, and Evans.
The Bengals’ next preseason game will take place on the road as they head to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants, who won their first game against the Patriots on Thursday night. Anticipate a similar workload for Evans. Depending on how Zac Taylor decides to use his players in this game, maybe a tad more or a bit less snap count.
It seems he is taking more of a precautionary approach instead of focusing on in-game reps for his key players. This makes sense after the multiple preseason Week 1 injuries that have already occurred across the NFL landscape.
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It might only be the preseason but it sure was good to see Evans shine.