August 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Bengals beat the Falcons 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has gotten all sorts of praise during the recent off-season. Bengals fans know how good the guy is, but hearing people around the league boast about Atkins is especially pleasing. Ravens Pro Bowl right guard Marshall Yanda is the latest to jump aboard the Atkins bandwagon:
"Geno is a very, very good player," Yanda said. "I will give credit where credit is due. That guy is good. He plays with really good leverage. He's really strong. That's two of the things that make him a really good player, and his quickness, too. He's one of the best inside guys in the game, too."
Atkins had seven and a half sacks last season, tying him for the league lead for sacks by an interior defensive lineman. Atkins played well against Yanda last season, coming up with nine tackles and a sack in the two games against the Ravens. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is hoping that the Ravens can find a way to contain Atkins this year:
"He is really tremendously athletic," Harbaugh said. "He's really got quick feet. He is an explosive, quick, powerful guy. He is a tough guy to reach. He gets on that outside edge and gets upfield. Sometimes when you move, and you kind of shift their defense a little bit, he'll play over the center and play as a nose guard and do a great job. He's a pass rusher. As an inside rusher, you don't see that often, really athletic guy."
Harbaugh is right, Atkins often plays in many different spots on the defensive line. Atkins importance in Monday night's game will be even more crucial now, as top pass rusher Carlos Dunlap is unlikely to be available.