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Margus Hunt Hitting Reset In 2015, Season Is A Turning Point In His Career

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The huge defensive end project is entering his third year in the NFL and it's shaping up to be a make-or-break-type of campaign.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cincinnati Bengals took defensive end Margus Hunt at the back end of the second round in the 2012 draft, reviews were mixed. Some loved the guy because of his sheer size, potential and college production, having very little overall football experience. Others thought that he was too raw, was a reach at No. 53 overall and were upset at the prospect that the team was prepping to replace Michael Johnson with Hunt.

With two years under his belt, the naysayers are being proven correct, at this point. Hunt has only been active for 22 games and has NFL stats consist of just 1.5 sacks and six tackles. It was a disappointing end to 2014 after Hunt had four sacks in preseason play last year.

With Johnson's departure, we wrongly predicted Hunt to have a breakout year in 2014. The season was plagued with his own ineffectiveness, coupled with that of others next to him, as well as a severe ankle injury that caused Hunt to miss four games. It was a shame after defensive coordinator Paul Guenther supposedly spent significant one-on-one time with the defensive end last offseason.

Now, it's deja-vu for Hunt in the 2015 offseason. Per Coley Harvey of ESPN:

"You're (Hunt) starting to really get it, and then boom, you have to shut it down for six weeks and it's like starting over again," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said.

"Getting there, it don't mean anything," Guenther said earlier this offseason. "We've got to finish the rushes. We've got to affect the quarterback one way or another. That's the bottom line. We have to affect the guy throwing the ball."

"I anticipate spending a lot of time with him and Will this offseason because we've got to get those guys going," Guenther said. "It isn't necessarily about scheme. You look at the teams that [played in the Super Bowl]. It isn't like they [were] trying to trick anybody with blitzes and all that stuff. It's your guys, my guys, one on one and I've got to win on rush, I've got to win on coverage."

"To me, it's about technique. It's about effort. It's about playing fast," Guenther said. "Those are the things that if you don't do that, if you don't get lined up right, if you don't play great technique and you don't play fast with great effort, then you don't have a chance to start."

What Guenther says here is accurate and Hunt is still learning the nuances of the game and position. Third years are usually huge for the overall development of NFL players, so perhaps Hunt will fall into that positive category in 2015. It's going to take work, and likely, another set of individual sessions for Hunt and Guenther this offseason.

The other aspect needed for Hunt's improvement is added talent along the defensive front and players like Geno Atkins rounding back into old form. Added push from the middle, forcing double-teams on the tackles will create more one-on-one match ups for Hunt which could become favorable. Still, as Guenther mentioned, Hunt will need to have refined technique to be able to take advantage.