CINCINNATI -- Some 12 minutes into his conference call with Cincinnati Bengals media Wednesday, Karlos Dansby could no longer contain his excitement over the one-year deal he signed with them earlier in the day.
It was while in mid-answer that his voice raised a slight octave and he paused for a quick beat to collect his thoughts.
"Oh man, this is going to be awesome," the outside linebacker said. "I really can't put into words this situation because you just can't draw this up every day. The talent that we have on this team, man.
"With what I bring to the table myself, I think it can be very, very dynamic here, and it'll cause some problems for a lot of teams that weren't expecting this kind of move, or weren't expecting to have to deal with this kind of talent that we have on this defense."
After being cut March 19 following two losing seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Dansby, 34, finds himself now part of a Bengals defense that ranked second in preventing scoring last season. A legitimate playoff contender, the Bengals have been to the postseason each of the last five years. In January, they were within seconds of winning their first playoff game in nearly three decades.
Dansby compared the heartbreak he believes his new teammates felt following their 18-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round to what he experienced in February 2009, when he was part of another loss to the Steelers that had even greater magnitude. Then a starter for the Cardinals, Dansby experienced Arizona's Super Bowl XLIII loss first-hand.
"It pushed me to another level," Dansby said. "So I know the expectation level here coming in is like, these guys are going to be ready to go. They're going to be itching to get back out on the field. They're going to have a certain kind of drive, a certain kind of passion for the game that they didn't have before because they were so close. They knew they had an opportunity to win that game and they lost it. I fit right into that boat. I want to be around guys that have the same kind of mindset."
Dansby watched every play of the Bengals' latest playoff loss. He especially watched the end, when a Jeremy Hill fumble, and eventual penalties from Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones obliterated the one-point lead the Bengals seemed so close to holding onto.
"It was a tough way to end because they had the game won," Dansby said. "A play here, a play there. A flag here, flag there, and you lose the game. It's a tough pill to swallow."
During free agency, the Bengals only lost Emmanuel Lamur at linebacker. He signed with Minnesota earlier this month. Dansby likely will take Lamur's place, covering tight ends on passing downs, and lining up at the starting "Sam" linebacker position in base defense. As the "Sam," he would play with "Mike" linebacker Rey Maualuga, and Burfict, the "Will," who will miss the first three games due to a suspension. Vincent Rey could take Burfict's spot across those three games.
While it appears Dansby will start, he isn't anticipating that just yet.
"These guys are going to push me," Dansby said. "Because they see me and they'll be like, 'Man, if he can do it, I know I can do it.' Their drive is going to push my drive and make me even better."