Cincinnati Bengals enter the season finale without two above average Joes.
Running back Joe Mixon tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, per a source. Mixon currently is asymptomatic, Pelissero added.
Bengals would have to do without a quarterback against Cleveland, as Joe Burrow told reporters he didn’t expect to play on Wednesday. Cincinnati head coach Zack Taylor later confirmed that Barrow would rest and sit in the 18th week.
The MVP candidate said his absence has less to do with his knee, which is “sore but it’s not bad,” than with taking a mental and physical break before the playoffs.
“At this point in the season, you can always take a short break,” Barrow said. “As you know, we played a lot of games. We’re a little worn out. This week we’ll take a break, get back where we need it, and run around as hard as we need.” It will be the first week “
Burrow added he expects to practice and get some throws during the week.
The timing of Mixon‘s and Burrow‘s absences comes as the club, which has clinched a playoff berth, is competing for higher playoff seeding. Cincinnati will have to pursue that without its top RB in Mixon and its starting signal-caller in Burrow, who won’t get to finish off the best regular seasons of their respective careers.
Mixon‘s 1,205 rush yards, 13 rush touchdowns, and 314 receiving yards are all great carriers. Mixon‘s backup, Samaje Perine, expects to take action against the Browns. Perine is rushing 246 yards with 55 carries this season, averaging an impressive 4.5 yards, even better than Mixon‘s 4.1.
Burrow has started all 16 games this season after missing six games in his rookie year due to a season-ending knee injury. The QB has completed a league-high 70.4 percent of his passes and has thrown for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns. Burrow also leads the league in yards per attempt (8.9) and yards per catch (12.6). Backup quarterback Brandon Allen is expected to start in Burrow’s place.
Wednesday’s news comes on the heels of several other key Bengals hitting the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, including safety Vonn Bell, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, guard Quinton Spain and center Trey Hopkins, all of which are starters. Backup linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither was placed on the list, as well. Those players, but not Mixon, could potentially test out of protocols in time to play on Sunday. If two interior offensive linemen in Hopkins and Spain can’t play, Perine could find tough sledding in the running game. Other Bengals on the reserve/COVID-19 list include linebacker Jordan Evans, wide receiver Trenton Irwin and cornerback Trae Waynes.
The 106-year-old Bengals is AFC North Champion and can’t be worse than Seed’s 4th place. However, they can get better results and still have a chance of being weak in the first round and the associated buys.