Bengals veterans react to team drafting Mixon

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Bengals vets talk Mixon pick

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The consensus in the Cincinnati Bengals locker room on Monday as the veterans began their third week of voluntary offseason workouts was that controversial running back Joe Mixon deserves a second chance, and his new teammates are going to do everything they can to make sure he makes the most of it

“As a team we’re going to take him under our wing,” safety George Iloka said. “He’ll get treated like any other rookie will. The only responsibility that I feel like we have as teammates to make his transition smooth and easy is to not harp on it or dwell on it. It happened three years ago. Dwelling on the past is not going to help you move forward.”

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Players used terms such as “extreme,” “awful” and “unfortunate” to describe the incident that made Mixon a polarizing figure, his 2014 punch of a 19-year-old woman that broke bones in her face.

Two players who can appreciate the willingness of the Bengals to give Mixon a second chance are running back Jeremy Hill and defensive Carlos Dunlap. Both players carried their own red flags into the draft only to have the Bengals take a chance on them in the second round, as they did with Mixon on Friday.

And both Hill and Dunlap have been exemplary citizens since.

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“Second chances are hard to come by, but if you go about it the right way and people have that feeling it was an isolated incident and you’re not going to let it happen again, I think in the right circumstances you deserve a second shot,” said Dunlap, who was arrested for DUI during his junior year at Florida in 2009 and suspended for the SEC Championship game.

“We’ve got a lot of veterans in here who have made a lot of mistakes and got back on the right path,” Dunlap added. “I think that’s somewhat a comfort for (team ownership) and why they felt like we have the right guys to pull him in the right direction and bump him and keep him on the railroad tracks. You know how that mamma dog, any time the little pup gets away, nudges him a little bit. I think that’s what they felt like they have in this locker room because we have a lot of those guys who have made mistakes when they were younger but they’ve learned from their mistakes.”

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Hill has more in common with Mixon than just the position they play.

The spring after Hill’s freshman season at LSU, he was arrested and charged with simple battery in connection with a fight outside a bar near campus. That incident, like Mixon’s, was captured on video. Hill was suspended, reinstated and hasn’t been in trouble in the four years since.

“It’s definitely a similar situation,” Hill said. “Obviously people throw out the word ‘character.’ Not knowing the person’s character, it’s easy to do that. From what I’ve heard from the coaches and everyone who has spent time with him and been around him they have nothing but great things to say about him.

“I’m sure I’ll meet him here pretty soon, and I’m sure I’ll have the same feeling about him,” Hill added.

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Linebacker Vinny Rey said he thinks the Bengals have the perfect locker room with quality leadership to help Mixon in his quest to move forward.

“I’m glad he’s here, that he’s on our team,” Rey said. “I hear he’s a great teammate. I’m going to be a great teammate to him. I’m going to serve him anyway I can.”

At the end of every day, the last locker Mixon will walk past on his way home will be Dunlap’s.

And regardless of whether Dunlap is sitting there when Mixon strolls by, the two-time Pro Bowler said he hopes he can be an example of what can happen when you make good on a second chance.

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“I was given one, and it paid off for me and my family huge, immensely,” Dunlap said. “His is a lot more extreme than mine. But’s not the end of the world because the man who’s judging us all (God), he gives us a second chance, so why can’t the men on land give a second chance?

“Now you shouldn’t just give somebody a second chance just because of their talent,” Dunlap continued. “But if you show the right people and demonstrate the right steps, I feel like you can earn that second chance. That’s the way it should be. It should never be given, but you can earn it. I feel like he’s going to earn it here, and has probably been earning it every day.”

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