Being an NFL veteran is complicated. There will almost undoubtedly be a time where your replacement is on the roster developing behind you. This is a unique situation where most people with day jobs just couldn’t understand the complexity of that scenario.
As fans, it is easy for us to say that players should just help these young players develop because it is the right thing to do. But how would you feel if your boss called you in the office one day, and he asked you to train new-guy Steve to do your job. That way in a few years, Steve will be ready to replace you and allow the company to move on seamlessly. It isn’t as simple as we may think it is
However, the Bengals’ players really haven’t had many issues connected with this dilemma in recent history. This year, Carlos Dunlap has been one of the players who has been most noticeably helping along young players.
“Experience and expertise and I’m not afraid to spread the wealth,” Dunlap told Michael LaPlaca of bengals.com. “I know I stumbled through some things early in my years. I try to talk them through or let them know when some things come up. Explain what to do, how to be and be ahead of the curve so they can help us. At the end of the day, we are a team and we are all brothers.”
There have been plenty of examples of veterans helping younger players along. You can look back to how cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick were helped by guys like Adam Jones and Terence Newman. Safeties Shawn Williams and George Iloka were brought along by Reggie Nelson. There are plenty more examples, but why is this so common with Cincinnati?
Dunlap sums it up pretty well.
“At the end of the day you making (the rookies) better challenges you to work harder,” Dunlap said. “Competition brings out the best in everybody. If I can make them better and help them raise their level, it’s going to challenge me to stay on my P’s and Q’s all day every day so I can remain an elite football player. I don’t mind helping develop the young guys.”
That is certainly a great reason to keep competition flowing among the team. It also helps keep everyone accountable when you know you have players performing the best they possibly can without anyone cutting corners. It also is a great foundation for any team trying to create chemistry. It is all about getting rookies and young players to realize what is important in order to become a reliable NFL player.
“I know it is a different pace from college to the NFL,” Bengals’ rookie defensive tackle Renell Wren said. “So now it’s a part of knowing your plays, getting down on the field and working on your craft. Your technique has to be better, you use more extensions, more leverage and just being a bigger part of the game. I talk to Geno (Atkins), (Andrew) Billings and Carlos on how to stay in the game and most of it is mental.”
Wren is one of the Bengals’ fourth-round picks from this year’s NFL Draft, and he isn’t expected to have a huge role this upcoming season. He will have to compete for every snap he gets. Players like Atkins, Billings and Dunlap could just as easily phone it in when helping the rookie, but as Dunlap said, they’d rather have him to possibly be able to help this season instead.
That is the kind of chemistry you love see to still be on this team in the aftermath of an almost complete coaching overhaul, and it is what could help get the Bengals back to a point of relevance again.