Running back Moss ‘looking forward to’ opportunity with Bengals

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — Zack Moss knows he has big shoes to fill in the eyes of Cincinnati Bengals fans who loved watching Joe Mixon carry the ball for their team the past seven years, but he’s not out to try to replicate his predecessor’s success.

As the team’s new No. 1 running back, Moss isn’t even concerned about whether he’s carrying the load, like Mixon did, or sharing the carries, like he has in his previous experiences.

Now that Organized Team Activities are underway, the Bengals are getting their first looks at how newcomers like Moss will look in the offense going against defenders. Moss, who spent his first five NFL seasons with Buffalo and Indianapolis, plans to just show what he can bring to the table, and from there, it’s up to the coaches to determine how best to use him and second-year running back Chase Brown.

Chances are, the running game looks a lot different with Moss and Brown than it did with Mixon, who had four 1,000-yard seasons and more than 1,500 carries in his seven years with the Bengals. Mixon was traded to Houston after Moss agreed to sign in free agency.

“I’ve never been in a position where you come in after a guy who’s had so much success and means so much to the fanbase,” Moss said. “I mean, I remember watching Joe, just throughout the league, college and stuff like that. So, you know, definitely, I think it is big shoes to fill in that sense of things. But like I said, my job is not to worry about the past and things like that, it’s to go out there and do my job at a high level, and whatever my job looks like, that’s what I’m trying to do and be as consistent as I can be at that.”

Moss primarily has played in two-back systems but received a career-high number of carries last year in his first full season with Indianapolis when Jonathan Taylor missed seven games due to injuries. Moss also missed three games because of arm injuries and still finished with 794 yards and five touchdowns on 183 carries – all career bests.

The Bengals leaned heavily on Mixon as their ball carrier but started to see what mixing in an explosive player like Brown could add to the offense last year, and the duo took on “thunder and lightning” references. Moss is known as a physical, downhill runner with breakaway speed, and he brings versatility as someone who prides himself on pass protection.

Moss doesn’t know what the splits might look like between him and Brown, but he looks forward to seeing how it shapes out. He doesn’t mind the expectation isn’t for him to maintain a cow-bell running back role.

“I mean, most of my career I’ve pretty much split time with somebody else regardless, and I think that’s kind of where the league is really right now,” Moss said. “You really only have maybe two or three guys that are predominantly just the backfield by themselves and taking all those carries and hits. I never really worry about or think about it. I mean, I’m looking forward to seeing a guy like Chase be able to do a lot of good things and continue to, you know, build himself throughout this league. And when it’s my turn, I’ll go out there and do the same things, and I think when you got two backs, it makes it a little easier. I mean, I was in Indy with JT (Taylor), so when he came back (from injury), I was excited, just because it made things so much easier and defenses wore down, or whatever, things like that. So like I said, I’m trying to take that experience, bring it here with these guys, and kind of just help from that standpoint.”

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said the running back group will be fun to watch in training camp when the real competition for snaps takes place. Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans also return but have played bigger roles on special teams in the past.

For the coaching staff, now is a good time to experiment a little. Moss and Brown give the Bengals a chance to reshape how they utilize the running backs.

“I mean, anytime an organization puts their trust in you to go out there and do your job, I think you are super excited for that opportunity,” Moss said. “This league is all about opportunities. So, like I said, I’m looking forward to it, love seeing what Chase has been doing already, and things like that, being a second-year player, he’s got a chance to do a lot of good things and they’re gonna put him in great positions. And my job is to, you know, help them as much as I can and vice versa and try to be the best tandem we can be in this league and win games, and that’s really all that matters after that.”

Moss also is focusing attention in OTAs on getting used to how Joe Burrow likes to do things and developing chemistry with the offensive line that will be blocking for him.

Asked how he and Brown complement each other in the offense, Moss said he will have a better idea come training camp.

“We’re definitely two different types of backs,” Moss said. “Like I said, he’s crazy fast. But, you know, I think that will play a good role in the offense, keeps the defense on its feet, heels, whatever. And then, you get guys fresh all year long, things like that. So, like I said, I’m looking forward to continuing to build that chemistry.”

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