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Bengals Weekly Lineman: Christian Ringo stars behind Geno Atkins

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The Bengals seemed to have found a diamond in the rough amidst their mountain of injuries.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Chargers The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODA

The Bengals 2018 tour hasn’t gone exactly as planned, but I’m sure The Beatles had a few wacky tours of their own.

At the beginning of the season, Cincinnati’s defensive line was touted as the strength of the entire team, and they hadn’t had a trio of pass rushers as good as Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson in, well, maybe ever?

The Beatles had their lead three in George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon and Ringo Starr to round things out. The Bengals didn’t quite have a Ringo to put it all together in the pass rush, but through turmoil and injury, they might’ve found him.

Christian Ringo is only on the Bengals’ roster because they’ve had four defensive tackles go on some sort of injured reserve since Week 3 of this season. Ringo was claimed by the Bengals at the beginning of last season when the team had a roster spot open up because their third-string quarterback, Jeff Driskel, was placed on injured reserve with an injured hand. Ringo didn’t play a down for the Bengals last year, and ended up on the Lions later on.

This year, he was available once again at the right time, and the team had no choice but to play him a week after they claimed him for the second time in just over a year.

After flashing in his season debut last week against the Broncos, Ringo turned it up a level this past Sunday against the Chargers and put together a quality showing in just 18 snaps. Let’s overview some of his best reps and one where he could do better.

Being 6’1”, Ringo has that natural leverage coming off the line that Atkins has, but knowing where to strike with that leverage is just as critical. Here, Ringo displaces the right guard’s high outside hand and works himself an outside lane. His bend on the rush is good, but not good enough as he can’t quite finish to quarterback Philip Rivers, but the process is admirable and against a lesser quarterback, this may’ve lead to a win for the defense.

I can’t whistle but if I could, I would after watching this.

Upon further research, I’ve discovered the center Mike Pouncey hasn’t been as good as he started in his first season in Los Angeles, but most folks will tell you he’s better than his brother that plays in Pittsburgh. Nevertheless, Pouncey’s a good blocker, and Ringo made him look like a rag doll on this play.

For the Bengals, this isn’t normal to see for a defensive tackle who isn’t Atkins.

I will always hammer home the undeniable fact that play recognition is a vital trait for interior defenders because it can put you in position to make plays that others cannot. Ringo reads the movement of the Chargers’ offensive line and doesn’t hesitate to put his process to work. He swipes away the guard’s drag hand and leaves the backside tackle in the dust on his way to blowing up the entire wide zone run by himself.

Eventually, the Chargers realized that Ringo came to play and started accounting for his presence. He didn’t let it phase him.

Ringo’s first snap following that tackle for loss was met with a double team that effectively took him out the play. Later on, he faced some combo blocks in the run game and showed an impressive combination of anchoring and aggressiveness. The Bengals are high on Ryan Glasgow because he is extremely gap-disciplined, but Glasgow lacks the downhill explosion that is needed to make these stops behind and sometimes at the line of scrimmage when shedding blocks at the point of attack. Ringo has shown in just two games now that he has that ability, even if it only comes in spades.

Admittedly, I’m forcing this Beatles pun for the sake of a prime opportunity, but the Bengals’ pass rush needs players to step up outside of their top three, who aren’t all healthy I should mention. Finding a fourth that brings an explosive presence, especially from the inside when Atkins is taking a break, is imperative. I thought that would be this year’s fifth-round pick Andrew Brown, but injuries have derailed his arrival to the role.

For now, we have Ringo, and he’s been anything but the forgotten member of this defense.