Who Starts At Defensive End: A Story About (Lack Of) Pressure

CANTON OH - AUGUST 8: Stephen McGee #7 of the Dallas Cowboys breaks a tackle attempt by Frostee Rucker #92 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium on August 8 2010 in Canton Ohio. The Cowboys defeated the Bengals 16-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Even though Antwan Odom was likely going to be out with an injury, we'd have this discussion anyway. With Odom's injury/suspension lasting at least four weeks, the question becomes who starts in his place.

Michael Johnson, who started last week with Odom and Jonathan Fanene shelved, finished with goose eggs across the board in his previous start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In fact, based on NFL.com's Game Book, Johnson has only recorded one quarterback hit all season, a half-sack (totally a Sons of Anarchy reference) against the Baltimore Ravens. Johnson has six tackles all season.

Another choice is Jonathan Fanene, who is returning from an injury that forced him to miss four games. During his first 37 career games in the NFL, dating back to 2005, Fanene only recorded one quarterback sack. Then in 2009, after Odom suffered a season-ending injury, Fanene stepped up and recorded six quarterback sacks, finishing the season ranked second on the team behind Odom's eight. While Fanene is one of the team's best pass rushers, one has to wonder just how healthy he is, recovering from a hamstring injury that could limit his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage.

What about Frostee Rucker? He's the only defensive lineman with more than .5 sacks, also leading the team with six quarterback hits. Amongst the defensive ends, Rucker recorded the least amount of snaps (28) compared to Geathers (43), Johnson (33) and Odom (32). Yet, last week against Tampa Bay, Rucker hit the quarterback four times. Geathers, Johnson and Odom combined for one quarterback hit. And Odom actually doesn't have a single hit all season.

So who should the Bengals start in place of the injured/suspended Odom?

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