Bigger role for Dunlap comes with greater expectations

Posted Jan. 30, 2011 @ 5:41 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap is likely to move into a starting role in 2011 after finishing his rookie season in exceptional fashion, notching 9½ sacks in his final eight games. Bengals DL coach Jay Hayes is interested to see how he handles such an increase in responsibility.

"Right now, the biggest thing he's going to have to do is, with the production he had, I know everyone's going to say, 'Hey, he's got to play every play,' so now he's got to transition from being a part-time player to a full-time player," Hayes told PFW at the Senior Bowl. "And that's going to be the issue. Can he go out there and play those types of numbers of plays going from 250 plays during the season to 700-and-some plays and do the things that he's still done and more?"

Hayes said the most significant improvement as a rookie for Dunlap, who turns 22 in late February, came in his approach.

"Just learning how to be a pro," Hayes described it. "Just understand now that, 'OK, it's time to practice' and how he practiced and those type of things.

"Because that was the biggest transition for him. He was always fine playing the game. It was coming out there and doing what we asked him to do in practice. He didn't have great habits."

The 6-6, 277-pound Dunlap will be counted upon to become a more complete end if he's to have a bigger role. Hayes wants Dunlap to be diligent and has the goal of him "becoming a guy that can play the run as well as the pass."

Of playing the run, Hayes noted, "(He) does it pretty consistently when he's in the games, but he needs to be able to work it during the week so there's no doubt that he'll do it right. And that's where we always had the rub with him — 'Well, if we put him in on run downs, what's going to happen?' "

Added Hayes, "He did well when (he) was in there. It's just you're not sure all the time — is he going to be able to do it?"