For the third year running, Cincy Jungle is proud to bring you its weekly award series that you can only find here. In case you're new to these parts, the "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" is one that honors players who went above and beyond, but maybe didn't quite make the cut for the MVP Award.
Sometimes it's geared to players doing the non-glorified work, other times it's a guy stepping up because of injury, but mostly it's about honoring the guy "behind the scenes". There were a few Bengals players who embodied what this award is all about, so cast your vote and sound off on who the winner should be!
Reggie Nelson, S:
This guy could be eligible for this award almost every week, it would seem. Not that this is a great stat for a safety to lead the team in, but Nelson had ten combined tackles on the day. He also had the half-sack that sealed the game along with Wallace Gilberry. He, along with other defensive backs, made life miserable for Joe Flacco and the Ravens' receivers through the first two and a half quarters on Sunday.
Vontaze Burfict, LB:
It wasn't the tackle-fest that we were used to seeing from Burfict, but leaving the game early with a concussion didn't help his stat line, either. Still, No. 55 brought his physical brand of football--so much so that he took a concussion after a big hit on Flacco. He forced and recovered a fumble that led to a field goal and had four tackles. Even more important than his stats has to be in how the defensive unit played after he went down with that injury. Their uninspired play speaks to Burfict's value to this team.
Kevin Huber, P:
In his first game back since suffering a broken jaw and cracked vertebrae late last season against the Steelers, Huber had a pretty decent season opener. Three of his four punts were downed inside the 20-yard line and he had a 50-yard punt in there as well. Field position was in favor of the Bengals for a good portion of the day and Huber helped with that important statistic.
Andrew Whitworth, LT:
Many people worried about the strength of the Bengals' offensive line this year when it had appeared to play so well with Anthony Collins at left tackle and Whitworth at left guard last season. The captain was his usual, sturdy self on Sunday, stymieing Terrell Suggs to sack-less (minds out of the gutter, please) performance. He was a vocal leader before the game and helped lead a unit that didn't give up a sack all afternoon. Whitworth's nomination could really embody a unit-wide recognition for this award.
Geno Atkins, DT:
Really, this nomination is more about desire than actual statistical success on the field. The fact that Atkins was able to start, much less play the whole game, after tearing up his knee in the middle of last year shows his heart. As Josh noted on Monday, Atkins had a positive Pro Football Focus score at +1.4, which was the best amongst Bengals defensive linemen. He only had one tackle on the day, but gave so much that he had to be carted off of the field at the end of the game because of dehydration.
Who gets your vote for the Week One "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" for the Bengals?