After setting a Bengals rookie record with 9.5 sacks last year, Carlos Dunlap is still looking for his first sack in 2011.
“I want to lead the NFL in sacks,” Dunlap told me. “Right now I’m not off to a good start, but we’re off to a better start as a team so that’s all that matters.”
The 22-year-old defensive end is the team leader in QB hurries with eight – twice as many as any other Bengal.
“He’s doing fine and I told him that he just has to keep working because the sacks will come,” said defensive line coach Jay Hayes. “He’s gotten a lot of pressure on people throughout the year. He missed all of training camp basically. He came out and was firing all of his guns when he first got into camp and then he got injured and missed three or four weeks. So now, he’s just hitting his stride. He’s going to get sacks – they’re going to come – and he can get them in bunches.”
Carlos is 6’6”, 289 pounds, and reportedly ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at his University of Florida pro day before the Bengals drafted him in the second round last year. Dunlap’s high school team in North Charleston, SC even used him as a kick returner.
“I actually returned one for a touchdown against A.J. Green’s team,” said Dunlap. “It was a big rivalry game and on the first play, they kicked it to me and I took it back to the house. A couple of the coaches here don’t believe that I actually did that so they talk about it all the time. I think you can actually find it on YouTube (you can watch it here).”
“It was crazy to see a human being that big running down the field that fast,” said A.J. Green. “He’s always talking about it.”
In addition to his athletic gifts, Dunlap received unique training for chasing down quarterbacks while working for his father, Carlos Sr., in Charleston, SC.
“I worked for my dad as a bounty hunter,” said Dunlap. “He’s a bail bondsman so if guys jumped bail, me and my brother would have to help hunt ‘em down. If they ran, we were the guys to run them down. We would tackle them and wait until my dad got there with the cuffs.
“When guys had gun charges, my dad wouldn’t let us go – he would take my uncle. But if it was a simple misdemeanor or something like that, my dad would let us go with him.”
Dunlap says that sacking a quarterback is easy in comparison.
“It’s a lot easier to tackle them in football because getting away from you is not as important,” Carlos said with a laugh. “Plus, you’re not tackling on concrete.”
Dunlap will be in hot pursuit of Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert on Sunday, but his performance should not be judged on whether he is able to record his first sack of the season.
“A guy can get two sacks in a game and get his butt kicked for 70 plays,” said Coach Hayes. “Because of two good plays everybody thinks that he had a great game. We want to keep the quarterback in the pocket and make him throw out of a well. We want to harass him, we want to hit him, and we want to get him on the ground.”
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