Oct 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins (97) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Guenther Expects Geno Atkins to Play on Sunday

All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins is expected to play in the Bengals third preseason game versus the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

It’ll be the first action for Atkins since tearing his ACL in week nine of last year while playing the Dolphins.  Atkins still managed to finish third on the team in sacks (6) as this defense went on to finish tenth in the league with 43 total sacks.  Atkins’ presence couldn’t come at a better time as the defensive line is still preparing for its first season without former lineman Michael Johnson.  Atkins makes things easier for all his fellow linemen as opposing teams must double and sometimes triple team him in order to deal with his disruptive presence (I can’t help but include this link in just about any Atkins post).  This will leave other linemen with 1:1 match ups making it easier for them to get into the backfield; Johnson himself experienced this benefit which can be seen in the discrepancy of sack production between 2012 and 2013 (11.5 compared to 3.5 respectively).  Atkins’ presence will help Carlos Dunlap’s transition from left end to right end and give second-year player Margus Hunt some easier situations as he enters his first year of substantial playing time.

In 2014 the Bengals will square off with numerous, potentially dangerous quarterbacks across the year.  They will face Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, and Andrew Luck at varying points this year to go along with facing both Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco twice each.  This type of schedule makes having a quality pass rush all the more important and Atkins’ ability to force quarterbacks towards the edge of the pocket will allow the Bengals’ plethora of defensive ends to collect the spoils that come in these circumstances.

The coaches and fans alike have been yearning for a look at Atkins for some time.  Sunday will be an exciting day regardless of how much Atkins plays.

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