Looking back on the 2011 season, there were a lot of high points, and lots of reasons for optimism. With upgrades along the offensive line and at running back, and a full offseason for the young guys to prepare, Bengals fans are understandably excited. There were changes made to every unit on both sides of the ball, and almost exclusively for the better. One place where a big change was made is along the defensive line. Gone are last year’s stalwarts Jonathan Fanene and Frostee Rucker, while Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey were added along with draft picks Devon Still and Brandon Thompson. The question is, did the line get better, or worse?
Jonathan Fanene has been a solid member of the defensive line rotation for the past few seasons. He had a career high 6.5 sacks in 2011 in twelve games. His versatility allowed him to move around the line and make plays from different spots, and he became well-liked by the coaches and fans both. After seven years in Cincinnati, Fanene signed with the New England Patriots this offseason. Frostee Rucker spent five seasons with the Bengals, and had his best last year, when he had 4 sacks. He moved on to the Cleveland Browns this offseason. Both players were well-rounded, solid against the pass and the run.