By Edward Lee
9:00 AM EST, December 31, 2011
The sack leaders in the NFL and on most teams are either defensive ends or outside linebackers. But the Cincinnati Bengals’ leader is defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
Atkins may have just eight sacks, but the second-year player won’t be overlooked by the Ravens, especially their guards and center.
“Usually, when you’re looking at the sack leaders, it’s probably a D-end. But Geno’s a good player, and he’s surrounded by great players,” left guard Ben Grubbs said. “That whole D-line is probably the strength of the defense, and they’re doing a good job.”
Atkins leads all interior linemen in the league in sacks and needs just a half-sack to break a tie with Dan Wilkinson for the most sacks in a season by a Bengals interior lineman.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was similarly impressed with Atkins.
“You’ve got to block him, and you’ve got to block him really well,” Harbaugh said. “He can defeat pretty much any block. He’s playing at a very high level. A second-year guy, he’s really emerging as one of the better tackles in the league.”
Atkins, a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, is listed at 6 feet, 1 inch and 300 pounds, but Grubbs cautioned against making too much about his short stature.
“Being that low to the ground definitely helps you,” Grubbs said. “It benefits you when it comes to getting leverage and playing with power. … He’s different because he’s shorter, for one. And powerful. One of the strongest guys I’ve ever gone against. He’s a good player, and I respect him.”
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