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P.J. Dawson tops OLBs on PFF; time for him to get more snaps

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It's time for P.J. Dawson to get a bigger role in the Bengals' defense.

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It's becoming more and more evident the Bengals got a huge steal when they landed TCU linebacker P.J. Dawson in the third round of this year's NFL draft.

Dawson was a force for the Horned Frogs in 2014, leading the team with 136 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and four interceptions on his way to being named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Though many had him pegged as one of the top 4-3 backers in this year's draft, Dawson slipped due to character concerns, work ethic questions and a poor Pro Day performance.

While Dawson may have struggled to showcase his talent off the field, he certainly is reminding everyone how good he is on the field with his preseason performance. After a good showing in training camp, Dawson had his breakout game vs the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football this past week.

On this play, Dawson lines up at the SAM, but ends up becoming the MLB as he bursts past Trevor Roach to make the stop in the backfield:

On this play, Dawson knives into the backfield for a stop on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line:

Here, Dawson lines up on the right side of the Bucs' formation before bursting into the backfield to make the stop on the left side:

For his performance, Dawson earned a 3.4 grade from Pro Football Focus while playing in just 17 snaps this game, mainly due to his four stops (tackles causing an offensive failure). That's an incredible rate of production for a rookie in just his second preseason game.

We probably shouldn't be too surprised, though and the guys at PFF certainly aren't:

That's right. Dawson is currently ranked the No. 1 4-3 OLB out of 103 OLBs who've taken a snap this preseason. While many of his snaps have come against third and fourth-stringers, that's still a great way of showing just how promising of a prospect Dawson is.

It also shows why it's time for Dawson to get some run with the starting and second-string defense. He's earned the right to at least take some snaps away from Vinny Rey, Rey Maualuga and A.J. Hawk, if not take one of their jobs altogether. All three of the aforementioned guys have negative PFF grades through their first two preseason games.

Especially after the way they performed Monday night, Dawson should absolutely be getting some of their snaps when the Bengals take on the Bears in their third preseason game.