Carlos Dunlap remains limited... and frustrated

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals defensive end hasn't practiced since July 31 after sustaining a concussion. Having gone through NFL protocols, Dunlap is easing his way back.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap is frustrated, telling reporters on Tuesday that while his legs feel fresh, his strength is down. Dunlap began easing back to practice this week for the first time since suffering a concussion on July 31. But before that, he's been standing on the sidelines losing precious time to build-up his strength.

Yet, his confidence remains high.

"My legs will be fine," said Dunlap via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I'll be able to run past people. I might not be able to blow them up, but I'm going to run past those guys. It's frustrating. Physically I feel I can still run, lift weights, whatever. But it's not in my best interests right now. It's like a mind game now."

Many teams use a similar system for concussion protocols, though most of it is league mandated. Baseline tests are conducted before training camp and those measurements are used to compare a concussed player's rehabiltation. Teams put into action a plan that administers tests in five phases for players showing symptoms of concussions, increasing the player's heart rate (more strenuous each time). If symptoms don't emerge after the final test, the player must be cleared by a team's physician and an independent neurologist before he's allowed to have contact again. Measurements are taken during the process and compared to the baseline tests.

Along with Michael Johnson, who has been dealing with a sore back, Dunlap may make his preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday (8 p.m., ET). According to Bengals.com, Dunlap was limited in participation drills on Monday and Tuesday, but plans "to be full go Wednesday and Thursday."

"Obviously, (concussions) are touchy things," Lewis told the local beat writers on Tuesday. "It was good to see him. He was out this morning and participated. Hopefully we continue to move forward."

If he's unable to make his debut, Dunlap feels extremely confident about being ready for Chicago next month.

"I'm confident I will be able to because I've gotten a lot better," Dunlap said via Bengals.com. "Because I've gotten a lot better in this time I've been sitting out. I think I'm really close.

"They say everybody's different and right now I'm average, so hopefully I stay that way. It’s one of those things, you have to wait. There's no medicine you can take for it. It's something that that you have to deal with. The NFL is being very strict right now, which they should because of the studies of what they can cause long term."

Dating back to 2011, the fourth-year defensive end out of Florida has only generated 10.5 quarterback sacks in 26 games played. But he's also recorded two fewer hits than Geno Atkins, who has played six more games and rushed the quarterback nearly 300 times more. Save for the sack discrepancy, Dunlap has dominated Johnson across the board -- especially in relation to hits on the quarterback and quarterback pressures.

The team signed Dunlap to a five-year extension worth $40 million in mid-July after negotiations with Johnson broke down.
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