Carlos Dunlap walked into the Cincinnati Bengals locker room and noticed a group of videographers and reporters waiting by his locker in a far corner of the room.
”Y’all looking for me?” he said.
Indeed Derrick Nnadi Jersey
, Dunlap was the focus on the first day of mandatory minicamp after skipping most of the voluntary offseason workouts in Cincinnati. The ninth-year defensive end chose to work out on his own while his agent negotiated a new deal with the team, costing him $300,000 in bonuses.
Rather than skip the minicamp as well, he decided to catch up on what he’s missed with a new defense being implemented.
Plus, he’s encouraged by the progress made on a deal that would keep him in Cincinnati well beyond 2018.
”There are no hard feelings between any of us,” Dunlap said Tuesday. ”This is the process. Both sides understand it.”
Dunlap is a key to the Bengals’ hopes of a turnaround this season. They slid to 18th in the league overall and 30th against the run last season while missing out on the playoffs for a second straight year. Coordinator Paul Guenther left to join Jon Gruden with the Raiders, and Teryl Austin was hired as his replacement.
Dunlap has been a game-changer in Cincinnati with his ability to rush the quarterback and bat down passes. He’s second on the team’s career sacks list with 64 , and he’s been the best lineman in the league at batting down passes over the past few seasons.
Coaches have been trying to get him to be more consistent not only from game-to-game, but within games as well. His number of plays could diminish this season as Cincinnati integrates some of its young pass rushers into the line rotation.
Carl Lawson had 8 sacks last season, the most by an NFL rookie and one sack shy of Dunlap’s team rookie record from 2010.
”They’re very adamant about having a big rotation, and I would too with all this talent on the D-line Malcom Brown Jersey
,” Dunlap said.
Dunlap and tackle Geno Atkins have anchored the line since 2010. Atkins leads the NFL in sacks by an interior lineman over the past few years. Dunlap had a career-high 13 sacks in 2015, but slipped to 8 the following season and 7 last year, third on the team.
By working out on his own the past few months, he missed a chance to learn the system implemented by Austin. He said the biggest change is in terminology.
”They’re pretty much similar in scheme – minor tweaks here or there – but they’re things we already had in our defense,” Dunlap said. ”So it’s not like a full spring cleaning or anything.”
Coach Marvin Lewis said Dunlap won’t get much time on the field during the three-day minicamp because he’s missed so much practice time.
”It’s a chance for him to get a preview of what will happen during training camp,” Lewis said. ”He’ll get very limited repetitions (in minicamp) just because these guys have been working here for an amount of weeks and he hasn’t been here.”
WOODSIDE CHARGED: Rookie quarterback Logan Woodside – a seventh-round pick from Toledo – practiced Tuesday after arraignment in northern Kentucky. He was charged over the weekend with speeding and driving under the influence in Bellevue, Kentucky, according to information in his case file in Campbell County District Court. The Bengals said they’re aware of the matter and gathering information. Lewis declined further comment.
EIFERT MISSING: Tight end Tyler Eifert was in the locker room but didn’t participate in the afternoon practice. Lewis declined to say why the often-injured tight end wasn’t on the field. ”He was here all morning and then all of a sudden he wasn’t,” Lewis said. ”I’m sure he’s being dealt with in some kind of medical fashion. That’s the only reason a guy wouldn’t be here.”
Eifert was limited to two games last season because of chronic back problems. He signed a one-year deal after the season. Lewis said Eifert has been doing well so far in his latest comeback.
”When we start to play football, then we’ll have an idea where he is,” Lewis said.
Stephen Curry has absolutely no concerns about his 3-point touch Travis Benjamin Jersey
, so he’s counting on the first one he takes going in.
”I have confidence in myself and my teammates have confidence in me to do what I need to do,” the two-time MVP said Friday. ”Never worry about it because I know how hard I work at it. It’s not a false sense of confidence. I know how hard I work at what I do.”
His teammates and coach also say enough with the panic about Curry already. Kevin Durant doesn’t even want to hear about any shooting struggles: he considers Curry the best shooter on the planet, and so be it if he shows he’s human, too, once in a while. This is after all the same sweet shooter who broke his own NBA record for 3s in a single season by hitting 402 in 2015-16.
”When Steph misses a shot everybody gets up in arms about it. That’s how great he is. So many people expect him to make every single shot. Sometimes it doesn’t happen,” Durant said. ”I knew the next couple days was going to be about Steph struggling to shoot the ball but that’s the last thing I worry about with Steph. I’ve just got so much confidence in him on the offensive side of the basketball.”
Still, Curry has just one 3-pointer in each of the first two games of the Warriors’ Western Conference finals series with the Rockets as the best-of-seven showdown shifts to Oracle Arena for Game 3 on Sunday night notched at 1 game apiece.
He is shooting 15 for 34 overall from the floor, missing 11 of his 13 3-point tries.
”I’ve gone 0 for 11 before shooting 3s, 1 for 8. Whatever the case is, you’re always shooting that next shot with the optimism and the confidence that it’s going in,” Curry said. ”So you can work on stuff in between practices and games and get your rhythm Nazair Jones Jersey
, just seeing the ball go in, work on your mechanics, but never lose confidence in myself ever. And that’ll never change.”
During his extensive shooting work Friday, Curry yelled out ”Ahhh!” in frustration a few times. He hollered ”Oh my goodness!” and ”Crazier things have happened!”
Durant just shook his head and noted, ”If you worry about missed 3s with Steph Curry …” then carried on about the Houston defense and how impressed he is that Curry has improvised and taken opportunities to drive to the rim when the Rockets switch out on him in an effort to protect the 3-point line.
Curry referred to his personal shooting coach, Bruce Fraser, as ”sensei,” or teacher. They talk in depth about what kind of workout Curry needs on any given day to feel right with his shot .
Curry understands the scrutiny. Golden State took a 127-105 beating from Chris Paul, James Harden and the Rockets on Wednesday night in Houston.
”It’s something to talk about and we obviously lost so you can try to pinpoint stuff or reasons,” Curry said. ”And obviously I didn’t have to talk to any of y’all to wake up and know I didn’t play well in Game 2. That doesn’t change my outlook on the series or what I need to do. If I don’t shoot the ball well in Game 3 it won’t change a thing about the way I approach the next one. You come to the game with the right intentions, the right approach and more times than not it will work out in your favor.”
Curry feels great physically. He missed nearly six weeks with a sprained left knee he injured March 23 before he came back for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against New Orleans. Coach Steve Kerr believes it’s far tougher to return from an injury during the pressure-packed playoffs Calvin Munson Jersey
, with no time to ease in with games that don’t matter or have near the same magnitude.
”I think Steph’s healthy, he’s moving fine,” Kerr said. ”But this is more rhythm than anything. You come back from six weeks in the regular season, chances are you’re going to have a game where nobody’s focused and the other team’s playing their fourth in five nights and the defense isn’t that tough and you make a bunch of 3s and you just feel good.”
The playoffs, Kerr said, are like facing the best pitcher in the World Series night after night.
Curry is up for the challenge.
”Just waking up every day with optimism and confidence in myself and where I’m at. That’s all I can really kind of speak on,” Curry said. ”There isn’t time to kind of coast or ease your way into it, especially with the intensity and pressure and all that stuff, so you’ve got to be ready.”
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