Good morning, Cincinnati Bengals fans. Welcome to the final week of voluntary organized team activities at Paul Brown Stadium.
As we start this last week of offseason practices, let's take a slightly deeper look at one player who could have a bigger role on the Bengals' defensive line this year than he has at any point during his time in Cincinnati.
With Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson anchoring the starting defensive end positions since his arrival in 2012, Wallace Gilberry was forced into a de facto backup role. He played on the edge in certain situations and occasionally ducked into the line's interior as a pass-rusher in nickel scenarios. Now that Johnson is no longer with the Bengals after signing with Tampa Bay during free agency, Gilberry's opportunities figure to increase.
Monday's factoid: 7.5.
That's the number of sacks Gilberry had in limited action last season. He tied with Dunlap for the team sack lead. It seemed several of his sacks came after quarterbacks had been flushed out of the pocket by other defenders' pressures, and ultimately had nowhere to turn but into Gilberry's outstretched arms.
As we look back at the former undrafted free agent's first six seasons, we see that Gilberry's sack production has increased throughout his time in the league. Tossed on the field for just 58 snaps as a rookie with Kansas City, he didn't record a sack in 2008. The next year, though, he had 4.5. The year after that, playing 481 snaps, he had 7.0 sacks.
Gilberry's sack production dipped in 2011 when he only had 2.5, but it began to climb again when he came to Cincinnati in 2012 after a brief stint with the Buccaneers early that season. All of his statistics that year come from his play with the Bengals. On just 300 snaps he had 6.5 sacks before adding his 7.5 on his career-high 493 snaps last season. Clearly, the more Gilberry plays, the better his production can be.
Along with sacks, Gilberry had his highest number of disrupted dropbacks during the 2010 and 2013 seasons; the two years he saw the most playing time in his career. With the Chiefs in 2010 he had 8.0 disrupted dropbacks. He had a 10.5 more in 2013. Those also equated to the highest disrupted dropback percentages of his career. His 2010 disrupted dropback rate was 1.3. In 2013 it was 1.6. Last season's percentage ranked 30th in the league among defensive linemen. Disrupted dropback plays include sacks, passes defended, interceptions and batted balls, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
It will be interesting to see how Gilberry's playing time shakes out this season. The 29-year-old is right now getting his share of action this offseason lined up opposite of Dunlap. Whichever side Dunlap plays on the defensive line, Gilberry plays the other end position. That's been both left and right, as the Bengals work on rotating their personnel placement in an effort to confuse opposing offensive lines this season.
While Dunlap appears to be the full-fledged starter at his end position, Gilberry has rotated at times with Margus Hunt. He's also ended up playing on the line's interior during various pass-rush scenarios. Because of the amount of time the Bengals will be in nickel formations, Gilberry ought to see his share of action come while lined up as a defensive tackle. The bottom line is, he's proven so far in his career that the more he's on the field, the better his production can be.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.