CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 16: Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals returns a fumble for a touchdown during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Colts 27-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Look at the numbers produced by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap: 14 quarterback sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 40 pressures on the quarterback. Forty! All within 24 games played during his first two seasons of his young, and immensely promising, NFL career. Sounds great. Right? At the same time he's missed eight games, which amounts to a quarter of his career at this point.
A sprained knee forced Dunlap to sit out the first two games in 2010. A knee strain wiped out his entire preseason the following year. Though he began the season last year -- practically dominating despite not generating a single quarterback sack during the first six games in 2011 -- Dunlap would go on to suffer a hamstring injury during the second quarterback sack against the Tennessee Titans, late in the fourth quarter. The injury was serious enough that it forced him to sit out four games through the middle of the season.
As a result, Dunlap decided to postpone his continuing education to continue training, hoping to prevent a reoccurrence with a bothersome hamstring (and to prepare school of his own against the league's offensive tackles) and a young career that's been marked with various injuries.
“I went down to Pete Bommarito (Performance Systems) where I trained for the combine,” said Dunlap. “It was continued maintenance on my hamstring and I concentrated on training a little bit harder. It was unfortunate that I had an injury and I want to make sure that I do everything in my power to prevent that from coming back. I postponed school and focused on training because this is my job.”