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Carlos Dunlap's emergence was overlooked last season

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Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap continues to improve, from a situation pass rusher as a rookie, to an every-down player with quality production against the run.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap set a career-high 9.5 quarterback sacks during his rookie campaign, rivaling this unknown kid named Ndamukong Suh for most sacks by a rookie. Despite failing to challenge his career-mark in sacks, Dunlap has made significant strides in becoming a better pass rusher -- sometimes a rush is better than a sack, forcing the quarterback to hasten his delivery or overthrow a receiver to the loving embrace of Dre Kirkpatrick.

In five seasons with the Bengals, Dunlap has generated 35.5 quarterback sacks, 10 forced fumbles, and reached a career-high in tackles (66) last season. There's only room for growth and it's clear he's grown -- especially as a run defender:

CD stats

During Tuesday's media luncheon, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis reiterated a logical belief that "Dunlap's emergence was overlooked" last season.

Dunlap earned a five-year extension prior to the 2014 season, worth nearly $40 million with $11.7 million guaranteed. The Bengals will look to see his continued growth and improvement this year.