Bengals defensive end is doing all that he can to convince the team's coaching staff that he's going to be ready to play in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. If you remember, Dunlap suffered a pretty significant knee sprain against the Jets in the preseason opener, joining many other walking wounded from that game. He has been rehabbing and things seem to be progressing nicely.
The problem is that Dunlap hasn't been practicing. And usually in the Marvin Lewis era, if you don't practice during the week, you're likely not suiting up for the next game. Dunlap says his knee is feeling pretty good and he seems to think he's ahead of the schedule that was set for him when he sustained the injury.
"I'm farther along now. It seems to be responding pretty well. I haven’t had any setbacks," Dunlap said. "That why I feel like I'm on track where I want to be. I'm a little bit ahead of schedule where the doctors were predicting. Marvin has his own prediction. He's not a medical doctor."
Geoff Hobson noted that Dunlap "looked good" while going through some agility drills a week and a half ago, which were his first on-field activities since the injury. That, coupled with the progress he's been making with the injury, may or may not be enough to get him onto the field Monday night.
When he was a rookie in 2010, Dunlap found himself in Marvin Lewis' doghouse. Lewis felt that Dunlap's effort in practice wasn't there and he was inactive for the first part of the season. Finally, when the season spiraled out of control, Lewis put Dunlap into the lineup and he played brilliantly. He had his moments in 2011, but had a nagging hamstring issue that plagued him for a stretch of games. This season was to be a coming out party for Dunlap.
Lewis has noted the change in Dunlap's approach, as has No.96 himself.
As Dunlap tries to prove him wrong, Lewis has praised him by saying "the new Carlos Dunlap" is doing things the right way to get back.
"Being three years in I have a better feel of what you can do to help benefit yourself," Dunlap said. "I understand how the little things make a difference."
Though he has the benefit of having an extra day of rest because of the Monday night kickoff, we're still not sure that Dunlap has convinced Lewis that he's ready to suit up and go. Dunlap did some work on the side with trainers again on Saturday. He's currently listed as doubtful on the injury report. He would be a welcomed return, should he play in Baltimore.
We'll have the full injury report later today.