NFL training camp: Best battle to watch for each team

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30: Justin Bethel
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30: Justin Bethel /
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CINCINNATI, OH – JUNE 14: Joe Mixon /

Cincinnati Bengals: Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Joe Mixon

Keep an eye on this one. This could get interesting. After a lousy 2016 season, there isn’t a lot of roar coming out of the Cincinnati Bengals facility. They are seen as clearly the third best team in the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, but ahead of only the rebuilding Cleveland Browns. However, the Bengals might have the ground game to sneak up on a few teams.

Sure, they’ll have to move mountains up front on the offensive line and quarterback Andy Dalton will have to be more efficient in the red zone, but there is reason to be exciting about the Bengals rushing attack. While veterans Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are proven commodities in the NFL, the Bengals did have the guts to draft troubled Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Bernard and Hill are more than capable of starting, but have largely tapped out all their NFL potential as runners before 2017. Mixon’s incident while at Oklahoma is troubling to say the least, but the guy might have been the first running back of the board had that horrific event not happen.  At Oklahoma, Mixon beat out Samaje Perine as the Sooners’ best tailback. Perine was sensational in 2015 for the Sooners as they made the College Football Playoff.

It will be interesting if the Bengals give way to Mixon and make him the running back atop their depth chart. Frankly, it would not be surprising to see Cincinnati move on from either Bernard or Hill during the preseason. Mixon will be either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Bengals running back depth chart. The question is who sticks around for 2017: Bernard or Hill?