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Geno Atkins continues to gain respect around the NFL

Merril Hoge of ESPN draws comparisons between Warren Sapp and Geno Atkins

Thomas B. Shea

On ESPN today they are previewing the Hall Of Fame ceremony that starts tonight at 7 P.M. on ESPN 2 and the NFL Network. Analyst Merrill Hoge was asked to compare wide receiver Chris Carter, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, and coach Bill Parcells. While he drew a blank on Parcells, he compared Chris Carter to a cross between Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, and Anquan Boldin now with the San Francisco 49'ers. Take a wild guess who he compared to Warren Sapp.

While Geno Atkins has quickly become a household name in Cincinnati, he has been notoriously (though not surprisingly) ignored by larger media outlets such as ESPN, who tend to focus on larger market teams. With that being said, if there was one ESPN analyst who would stray from ESPN tradition it would have to be Merill Hoge. If you remember he made headlines by calling out Tim Tebow, calling him a "Phony" for allegedly asking out of the Wild-Cat package while with the New York Jets.

That alone warmed me to Hoge, and his latest comparison of Sapp to Atkins, may have won me over completely. He referenced the level of ferocity that both Sapp and Atkins play the game with. He did go on to add that Geno isn't nearly as outspoken of a "talker" as Sapp was. And at the risk of beating a dead horse, after Chad Johnson left, outspoken isn't exactly what we look for in our leaders.

As long as were making comparisons let's take a quick look at the numbers. Geno Atkins has improved every season, recording a career high sack number last season of 12.5. He is a dominating pass rusher, and a bone crushing run stuffer. And he's still young. Warren Sapp set his career high sack total in 1999 at a staggering 16.5. Geno Atkins is at the same point of his career. Is he primed to top Sapp's 16.5 sacks in a single season? I certainly hope so.

While Sapp was drafted 12th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Geno was drafted in the 4th round by the Bengals, with the 120th over all pick. Talk about value in the later rounds. While it may be a small thing, the ESPN shout-out to Geno made me smile, so I thought I'd pass it along. One more 4th round steal like Geno Atkins and a superbowl may be a foregone conclusion for Cincinnati. No pressure Sean Porter, and Orson Charles. If I had to pick a potential superstar it would have to be Orson Charles, with an intriguing move to the H-Back position.