According to Dunlap, he will be relegated to coming in on third downs. He spent the majority of Thursday's video teleconference venting about the move ahead of the team's afternoon practice.
"It just seems like this is what the coaches want," Dunlap said. "I don't know what their thought is. But evidently, the focus is on third down, so we have to get them to third down with the young boys and then do what I'm asked to do."
Dunlap said he was informed about his role when the depth chart was posted on Thursday. He said he wasn't approached before he saw it.
"That's crazy, right?" Dunlap said. "I mean, you would think common decency would be something like that. I mean, it's not like I'm injured or anything. I'm not nursing anything. I've been blessed. Eleven years in the game. But I understand business, and evidently, this is the business they want to do."
Dunlap has started all 102 of his previous regular-season appearances, a streak that started at the end of the 2013 season, and has been with the team since they drafted him in the second round of the 2010 draft. The two-time Pro Bowler is the team's all-time sack leader.
He said the implied reason for his role on Sunday was his inability to stop the run. After four games, Dunlap is ranked 46th among 82 qualifying defensive ends in edge rush stop win rate, an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. He's ranked 29th among 58 defensive ends in pass rush win rate. Dunlap has two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss and no sacks.
Baltimore (3-1) is third in the league in total rushing and second in yards per rush. Cincinnati (1-2-1) has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL.
"I'm really trying to figure out the plans," Dunlap said. "It's kind of frustrating. I would like to just prepare for Baltimore, but I gotta prepare to figure out the madness that [the coaches] are doing."