C2 | FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 COMPLETE. IN-DEPTH. DEPENDABLE. SPORTS Bengals innumbers. At the end of the day I always have to make something shake so you’ve got to put it upon myself to make something happen.” Asked if there is something he could do differently, Mixon said it’s just “little things.” “I feel like I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do,” Mixon said. “I have to keep my eyes true tomy read. I’ve got to go and hit the holes wherever they’re at or go make a play out of something. I’m trying to dowhatever I can at least put is in a cool position to be able to move the chains. At the same time try not to do too much, stay true to the game and to my responsibilities and everything elsewill take care of itself.” TheEagleshave been solid against the pass, ranking fifth best in the league, but teams have found some success running the ball against them -- 135.0 yards per game on the ground. Left cornerback Darius Slay likely will match up against Green, while strong safety Jalen Mills has been solid against the run and pass. Up front, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham make things difficult as well. Mixon said the Bengals are in a better position this week after a “mini bye” and extra time torecoverandprepare, thanks to theThursday Night Football game against the Browns. “Oh-and-two that’s unacceptable for us,” Mixon said. “That’s notwhatwe should be right now but that’s the situationwe are inright now. End of the day, you always want to go out there and just win one day at a time. The waywe preparate during the week we have to go ahead and apply it to the game. Can’tbeplayingfrombehind, can’t be having mental mistakes, mental errors andpenalties. Stuff like that. Ultimately, it cost us. We have to dial in on that and be more disciplined. Everybody has taken accountability with themselves and each position room. I believe we will be in a good spot thisweek. We have to do it one play at a time and one day at a time.” REDSNOTES Bauer at hisbest inabig game continued fromC1 20 yards, and Green knows he’s the veteranwho should be steppinguptomake those plays. His longest catch so far is 15 yards, and he had just three receptions for 29 yards in Week 2, despite 13 targets. Green said he and Burrow just need to keep getting together and doing some extra work after practice, and the chemistry will come, but a lot of it is justhim needing more game reps. “I’m still rusty,” Green said. “I’m still learning this system. I’m still trying to get comfortable with the routes I’m running, just little things like that. I knew it was going to be growing pains, but Iwant to be great and I won’t accept failing, so forme, all I knowis keep working and I know I’ll get better each week.” While Green is preaching patience and expected “growing pains,” Mixon appears more frustrated, especially after figuring things out in the second half of 2019 to overcome a slow start. The Bengalswere hoping to build off that strong finish, which pushed Mixon over 1,000 yards rushing for a second straight season, but again Cincinnati has found itself playing from behind and not in position to run the ball more, late into games. Mixon has 115 yards rushing through two games and only 35 carries. Burrow threw 61 times in lastweek’s game alone. “It’s tough,” Mixon said. “I’m trying to make a play, but at the same time forme it’s just playing football in general. I’ve always been taught that you always have to make the first man miss no matter what. I felt like throughout the years I’ve done a good job of doing that. Stuff happens. Right now, it seems like in those kind of looks we’re outmatched with three receivers out there, and they have eight men in the box and they come down and play the run hard, because they see they’re outmatching us ByDavidJablonski StaffWriter Trevor Bauer screamed with excitement after striking out the side in the sixth inningWednesday, stranding two runners. An inning later, he walked off the mound at Great American Ball Park following another strikeout with a unique strut. In one of the most important games of the season, Bauerwasontopof hisgame. He allowed one earned run on four hits in eight innings, pitching the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-1 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers in the final home game. Bauer (5-4, 1.73) leads the National League in ERA and strikeouts (100). He made this start on three days rest. Manger David Bellwas thrilled to see a pitcherwho “works so hard for moments like” be rewarded. Bauer, Bell said, wants to betheguy inthose situations. “I think itwasmaybe even moremeaningful that itwas onshort rest,” Bell said. “The main thing is he knew how big of a game this was for us, and hewanted to be out there. Everything he does to put himself in position to be able to compete at the top of his game against the best teams in big games— he definitely was rewarded.” As of Thursday, the Reds had not announced their starting pitching rotation for the final series of the season on the road against the Minnesota Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer celebrates after the final out of the seventh inning against the Brewers onWednesday atGreatAmerican Ball Park. DAVID JABLONSKI / STAFF who would be the No. 5 seed because the Cardinals won the season series 6-4. In the wild-card race, the Giants have a slightly better winning percentage (.5090 to .5087) than the Reds and would win a tiebreaker and be the No. 7 seed. However, if the Reds and Giants have the same record, the tiebreaker would be intradivisional record. The Reds are 21-19 against the Central Division. The Giants are 17-18 against the West Division. As theNo. 8 seed, theReds would play the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Dodgers (39-17), whowould host the best-ofthree wild-card series starting Sept. 30. According to FanGraphs. com, theReds have an 87.8% chance of making the playoffs. championship with the Chicago White Sox (34-22). ThroughWednesday, the Twins had a half-game lead ontheWhiteSox, whoplayed the Indians on Thursday. Based on the current standings, the Twinswould get the No. 3 seed and play the No. 6 seedHouston Astros in the first round in Minneapolis, whereastheWhiteSoxwould be the No. 4 seed andwould play at home against the No. 5 seed New York Yankees. As of Thursday morning, theReds were tied for second place in theNational League Central Division with the St. Louis Cardinals (27-26). The Reds would be the No. 8 seed in the National League playoffs, according to MLB.com. Theywould lose a tiebreaker in the division to the Cardinals, Twins, though the most likely starterswould be: Tyler Mahle (2-2, 3.57) on Friday; Luis Castillo (4-5, 2.86) today; and Bauer on Sunday. Of course, if theReds canclinch a playoffspot before Sunday, they could hold Bauer for the wild-card series. TheTwinshaveannounced their rotation. They will pitch José Berríos (5-3, 3.72) today, Michael Pineda (2-0, 3.18) on Saturday and Rich Hill (2-2, 3.27) on Sunday. ThroughWednesday, the Twins ranked third in baseball in team ERA (3.52). The Reds ranked ninth (3.85). The Twins (35-22), whowere off Thursday like the Reds, have already clinched a postseason berth but are still competing for the American League Central Division Playoff picture: On the line: Looking ahead: Dayton graduateNick Elam(left), amember of the Reds grounds crew, invented a newway to end basketball games knownas the ElamEnding. The Reds grounds crewcheers during the home finale against the Brewers onWednesday atGreatAmerican Ball Park in Cincinnati. DAVID JABLONSKI PHOTOS / STAFF Reds final series of the season on the road against the Minnesota Twins with the chance to earn the first postseason berth in seven years. From here on out, they will play without the grounds crew and without fans at all. In the end, Votto wasn’t sure what effect having no fans had on the team, which is 16-13 at home and 13-15 on the road. “A lot of people going into the season asked about the fans,” Votto said. “It’s interesting. Whenyou’reoutthere competing, of course, the fans are a part of it, butwhen you’re competing you’re trying to do your very best. I don’t know how much of a difference having the fans made in terms of results. I couldn’t really tell you that, but I can say having the grounds crewin our cornerwas a distinct advantage for us because no other city had that. There were times deep into the games where I felt, ‘Holy cow, I feel the energy fromthem.’ It’s been such a treat. We’ve madethe very best of this.” sitting outside the front gate on lawn chairs. The Reds thanked the grounds crew many times throughout the season and one more time after the final home game. The players walked toward the groundskeepers, whogot in a line and slapped hands with the players. It was a fitting ending for a strange season at Great American Ball Park. No onewas more grateful for the job the grounds crew did than JoeyVotto, who said one opposing player told him earlier in the season, “I hate that group.” Votto thought, “That’s exactly what we need. We want the opposing team to hate, be annoyed by them. I think they don’t care in the least. Theycarried us at times when we needed energy, something different. They make noise. They cheer. Theytalkmess. They’vebeen fantastic all year, and we’re going tomiss them. Does this ever happen again? I’m not entirely sure. Thiswas very fun. It was really fun.” The Reds will enter the ballpark as soon as possible.” The grounds crew had many fun exchanges with visiting players, Elam said. Theywere always in the ear of the first basemen, and the opposing first-base coaches enjoyed their antics. On Wednesday, the grounds crew raised the decibel level a notch for a game that had a postseason feel. They banged on buckets, one of which was titled during the final homestand the Rally Bucket. “Whenever therewas a big play or the possibility of a big play, one of our guyswould put the bucket on his head and bang on the bucket himself,” Elam said, “and then other people around him would bang on the bucket.” The grounds crew also shook noisemakers. Several woreHalloweenmasks. They did their part to inspire the home team with everyone else, save for a few people sitting with owner Bob Castellini in the Press Club behind home plate, watching at home or maybe from a boat on the Ohio River or continued fromC1 They beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 to keep pace in the race for one of the four remaining National League playoff bids. Elam didn’t attend that game but worked nine or 10 this season. He typically does 25-30 games in a 162game season. This year, the job changed for the grounds crew because of the new health-and-safety protocols. “Thatmeans sanitizing all our equipment on a regular basis every day,” Elam said. “For a short time this summer, itwas super hot. Itwas around 100 degrees. When you’re running around carrying 50 pounds of dirt with a mask on, that’s hard to get used to. Through all of that, Iwas just remindingmyself that having this privilege, being able to attend these games in person when so many peoplewouldwant to be able to and aren’t able to, it was special in a way. But I’m eager to get fans in the Bengals running back JoeMixon tries to hold offChargers defender CaseyHayward during the second half Sept. 13 in Cincinnati. Mixon has just 115 yards rushing through two games and only 35 carries. BRYANWOOLSTON / AP Browns came in with the right attitude and the right mental approach. Hewas physically preparedandconditioned. He didagreatjobinhisoffseason training, and he spent time during the Zoom meetings to learn. When he came in, one of the things you always worry about is guys learning andpicking thingsup, andhe didn’t have to worry about that. He did a nice job.” Wills has received high praise so far from experts like Browns future Hall of Fame left tackle andmentor Joe Thomas, but he’s blocking it out. “100 percent,” he said. “There are going to be peoplewhosaygoodthings. There are going to be people who saybadthings. I just blockout the critics and all the reports andeverythingandjust focus on one thing at a time.” for fellowendsMontezSweat and Ryan Kerrigan. “You really have to study up on everybody and just be ready for those different guys to come in,” he said. Washington coach Ron Rivera is as happy with his top10pick as the Browns are with theirs. “He’s done a great job,” Rivera said. “He cameinwell prepared. He comes from a very good program to begin with. Iknowyoufolks inOhio appreciatethat. Hedoescome from a very good program thathasdonea great job with defensive linemen. He’s just anotherone in a longline. He cameverywell preparedand very well coached up. What we’ve tried to do is just really kind of refine hisgameto the NFL game. “He’s adapted very nicely. He’s one of those guys that blocking and 53rd in run blocking. For comparison’s sake, Mekhi Becton, picked a spot afterWills by the Jets, is currently ranked No. 10 in theNFL, accordingtopff.com. “I’m feeling good,” Wills said. “Just trying to come in each week and get better. There are a lot of things I still need to improve on so just trying to work to clean those things up.” Wills has adjusted especially quickly to the speed of the game. “It’salittlebitdifferentthan college, but you kind of pick thatupfastwhenyou’repracticingday in and day out,” he said. “To me, it was an easy transitionfornow. I’mstilltrying to get better, but itwasn’t as difficult as I thought itwas going to be.” He knows he’ll need to be ready not only forYoung, but grinding and he’s made big strides each week. “The biggest things is confidence,” Conklinsaid.“Coming into the league andmoving from right tackle to left tackle, that alone is a tough transition, and then not having any preseason games, that’s a whole another one, just being out there not seeing anybody but your own jersey in front of you. “Luckily, we have such a good defensive front and it wasa great challenge for him. Nowbeinginthegamehaving theshotsfiredathim, youcan really see him fighting back and figuring out and really gaining confidence every week.” Wills, theNo. 10overallpick, istiedforNo. 35thamongtacklesintheNFLaftertwoweeks, according to profootball focus.com. He’s 35th in pass of size, strength, power and quickness. It really runs the gamut.” Browns right tackle Jack Conklin, who returns this weekfromhissprainedankle, is also gearing up for Young and the rest of theWashington front four, which moves around a lot. “Yes, theirentirefront, they do, especially with the DEs,” said Conklin. “You can see them on both sides right to left. Both me and Jed definitely have to be prepared for seeing justaboutanybody over there.” Fortunately for Conklin, he’s seenWills get better each week. The rookie had some rocky moments in training campwith the transition to a newside. He’d get beat from time to time by Pro Bowlers such as Olivier Vernon and hang his head. But he kept continued fromC1 NFL with 2.5 sacks, and the Redskins lead the NFL with 11 sacks. “It helps a lot going against those guys like that,” Wills said. “I have full confidence in myself, seeing those guys in practice like that everyday. That’s what they get paid to do, and we get paid to protect.” Heading in, Youngnot only leads Washington with 2.5 sacks, but has eight tackles, two QB hits, two tackles for a loss andoneforced fumble. “He’s playedonboth sides, he’sgottenhome, he’sapplied pressureevenwhenhedoesn’t gethomeandhemakes plays in the run game,” Kevin Stefanski said. “Hemakes effort plays. Hemakes plays just off PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER PressReader.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW
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