Strange as it might seem, when the Bengals kickoff training camp this afternoon aside Paul Brown Stadium, Carlos Dunlap will be one of the team’s “old heads” and he can hardly believe that.
“I’m only 28 years old and I’m still learning at this age,” he told Bengals.com on Thursday. “If it was anything else in the world I would still be considered a rookie. But in the locker room they consider you a veteran. I came in at 20 so I have eight years under my belt.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot of ball left and I look forward to making these next few years my best. I’ve had some good ball up to this point, but I still feel like I have a lot of room for growth.”
Dunlap didn’t play like an old guy last season. He had eight sacks, deflected a career-high 15 passes and forced three fumbles while playing in all 16 games for the fourth consecutive season.
Considering that he has averaged 8.1 sacks per season since the Bengals drafted him in the second round out of Florida in 2010, he appears to be on track.
Just two players, ninth-year veterans Clark Harris and Kevin Huber, have been with the team longer than Dunlap and fellow eighth-year cats Andre Smith, Cedric Peerman, Adam Jones, Pat Sims and Michael Johnson.
Yet it almost seems like yesterday that he set the Bengals’ rookie sack record with 9.5.
“Coming in, one of the first things that I did was look up the average NFL career because everybody says that NFL stands for ‘Not For Long,’” Dunlap said. “I looked up the average and it was like 3 ½ years or something like that. To get to eight years is amazing.
“It feels like it has flown by. It feels like it’s been three or four years.”
The Bengals’ training camp begins at 3 p.m. on the fields west of Paul Brown Stadium. Gates open to fans at 2:30, and admission is free.