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Carlos Dunlap's Growth During His Rookie Season Was Most Impressive

What's always been impressive to me regarding Carlos Dunlap, was the growth that developed throughout his rookie year, though not initially something he controlled. The Bengals coaching staff were hardly impressed with his work ethic and drew some of the harshest criticisms from head coach Marvin Lewis. Injuries to Jonathan Fanene and Antwan Odom propelled Odom into a more active role, though mostly as a role-filler at best. Against the Panthers, Falcons, Dolphins and Steelers, Dunlap recorded 73 defensive snaps with only three quarterback pressures.

That's when things really took off for the young man. Though it's remarkable Dunlap eventually posted 9.5 quarterback sacks during his rookie year, setting a franchise rookie record, what's incredible is that he recorded those sacks in the final half of the season -- eight games, nearly ten quarterback sacks. He failed to post a quarterback sack in one game (Buffalo) during that stretch, picking up at least a shared sack in six straight and more than one quarterback sack in four games (New Orleans, New York Jets, Cleveland and Baltimore).

Scouts, Inc. graded Dunlap as the league's 23rd best defensive end (In$ider), with Robert Geathers (59th), Jonathan Fanene (60th), Frostee Rucker (97th) all grading inside inside the top-100. Michael Johnson was graded as a linebacker, 83rd overall and former Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom ranked 43rd.