Cincinnati's Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley are both challenging Cris Collinsworth's franchise record 67 receptions during his rookie season. Quick note: Collinsworth's 67 receptions during his rookie season would turn out to be a career-high. Gresham and Shipley account for two of the team's five offensive players drafted during this year's NFL Draft. The others being center Reggie Stephens, who has been inactive all season, Otis Hudson, who remains on the team's practice squad roster and Dezmon Briscoe who was signed onto Tampa Bay's practice squad.
On the other hand, the Bengals defensive rookies have had a quieter impact compared to their offensive counterparts. Even though Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Brandon Ghee and Roddrick Muckelroy are on the team's 53-man roster playing mostly special teams roles, all four players have combined for 16 total tackles and 0.5 quarterback sacks. After recording 4.5 quarterback sacks during the preseason, Atkins has somewhat disappeared during the regular season; though on the field for an average 18 snaps a game, according to Joe Reedy.
Since Cincinnati's six-sack performance this year ranks at the bottom of the NFL, attention is being focused on the lack of a pass rush and the draft picks that were supposed to help. And since only seven games have passed this year, it's hard to blame either rookie for contributing to the lack of a pass rush, even though Dunlap has only been activated in three games this year. As noted by Reedy, Dunlap's contribution is greatly increasing after being on the field for half of the team's defensive snaps against the Miami Dolphins.
However, as head coach Marvin Lewis notes, Dunlap is improving but he's just not there yet.
Said Lewis of Dunlap: “Hopefully he’ll continue to grow a little bit and get better and give us some quality snaps. He has all the ability we expect. Right now he’s had more practice than play. He’s got to learn how to prepare and practice in the National Football League to play on Sundays.”
Lewis noted that he expected more of Atkins after a stellar preseason in which he had four sacks (he has half a sack in the regular season) but is optimistic since the season is just at the midway point.