Despite the depth chart labeling Carlos Dunlap on the first-team unit at left defensive end for several weeks now, Dunlap has only started one game in his NFL career, and that was Week Four in 2011. Robert Geathers, who has always been characterized as a strong run defender, remains the starter opposite Michael Johnson; a role that dates back to 2007 (including the momentary experiment at strongside linebacker).
What's the meaning of a starter? You play the first down of your respective unit, which often first and ten and a running down.
Though eventually Dunlap will have (and should have) starter affixed to his name. Something he really wants. When asked if winning the AFC Defensive Player of the Week would be enough to convince head coach Marvin Lewis to give him the start this weekend, Dunlap told Bengals.com:
"That's a good question; you'll have to ask him," Dunlap said of Marvin Lewis. "He's the head coach. He makes the call. I'm just a pawn in this chess game. I feel like if I have another game like that I should. It shouldn't be a question if I have another one like that."
In truth Dunlap is the team's primary left defensive end without a doubt, having participated in at least 50 defensive snaps during three of the past four games. At this point all that remains is the title of starter, which is obviously a momentous thing for an NFL player.