"Stay away, Fanene or I'll throw this football. I swear to it, I will!"
Second-year defensive tackle Geno Atkins posted a season-best six tackles last Sunday, including a quarterback sack on Baltimore's four-yard line that stalled the Ravens opening second-half possession, forcing Baltimore to settle for a field goal. Pro Football Focus, who rates Atkins as the best defensive tackle in the NFL, wrote of his performance: "Atkins was solid against the run but even better rushing the passer as all five Baltimore offensive linemen graded negatively on at least one play against him." Additionally Atkins has generated a quarterback sack in three of the past four games and his 5.5 sacks for the season is currently tied with Philadelphia's Cullen Jenkins and Oakland's Tommy Kelly for most among defensive tackles in the NFL. When asked about Atkins during his Monday press conference, Lewis said:
"Geno has really come in and done the things we hoped he would. A year ago, he had a good kickoff to his rookie season, and he's come back and followed it up now as a starting defensive tackle. He’s done a great job."
Yet the true affect that Atkins is having for this defense, writes Dan Pompei in his latest report, is simply his effort.
Also on the topic of the Bengals, their coaches believe the hustle of second-year defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been contagious. Atkins, who is having a fine season, plays so hard that other Bengals defenders have revved up their motors to try to match his intensity. When the Bengals chose Atkins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, they thought he was the third-best interior rusher in the draft after Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. It looks like their assessment was pretty accurate, as Atkins’ intelligence, quickness and effort have led him to 4.5 sacks this season. Atkins also has been solid against the run because he gets good leverage.