There is no question Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of the most feared men in the locker room. He is not scary or unapproachable like linebacker James Harrison is, but the 6’1”, 303-pound defensive lineman is physically intimidating. He is someone that makes the other players on the team glad to see he is one of them and not someone they have to face on Sundays.
The Bengals saved one of their smarter moves of the summer for the week prior to the start of the regular season. The organization signed Atkins to a five-year, $55 million contract extension that makes him one of the highest paid defensive tackles in the league. It is a move that has to have members of the Bengals and their fan base excited about the possibilities going forward.
“The guy is maybe one of the most powerful interior linemen that you’ll ever see,” Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said last season, according to ESPN.com.
Most players would never want to face Atkins in the Oklahoma drill, a one-on-one tackling competition the Bengals ran in practice. However, tight end Jermaine Gresham decided to step up and get the offense some respect. He also wanted to get his name heard on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Gresham defeated Atkins in the drill, but only because he cheated by jumping offsides. Gresham could be seen gloating about his accomplishment in the locker room afterwards, until he noticed Atkins staring at him. He immediately went into survival mode.
“I cheated today in Oklahoma drill,” Gresham said to the HBO cameras.
Atkins’ presence along the defensive line is a big reason why the Bengals have a legitimate shot at a third consecutive postseason berth. He is big, strong and will require the attention of every single offensive line Cincinnati faces this season. That respect will allow the team’s top pass rushers to do their business, which could make the Bengals very dangers in 2013.