Carlos Dunlap was the youngest player on the Cincinnati Bengals' roster last year. He also was the most promising. The former Fort Dorchester High School and University of Florida star came on strong at the end of last season with 9½ sacks in the last eight games from his defensive end position. Dunlap talked about former foe and new teammate A.J. Green, driving in the snow and playing in the ‘Times Square' of NFL stadiums when he went One-on-One with The Post and Courier's Phil Bowman:
What would you have said five years ago if someone would have suggested that you and former Summerville High School star A.J. Green would be playing on the same NFL team?
"No way. I don't think anyone would have predicted that. But I'm just glad he's here in Cincinnati. I've played against him so many times in high school and college that it's good to finally have him on my side. He's a playmaker. We hang out together and play basketball video games. The record is 2-1. He won the first one, but he hasn't beaten me since."
What kind of advice did you give A.J.?
"He just needs to learn the playbook. When you know the playbook, things come naturally and you don't have to think as much. I told him he can be a playmaker. We need him to come up with the big plays."
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make going from Florida to the NFL?
"That's easy. It has to be the playbook and getting to know everything in it. It's triple the size of the playbook I had in college."
You started slowly in the first half of last season but by the end of the year you were one of the NFL's top rookies. What happened?
"I just got more opportunities to play. I was hurt early in the season and had limited opportunities. By the end of the year, people who were in front of me (on the depth chart) started getting injured and I got my chance. I was a little more comfortable out there. I didn't have to think as much. I started reacting rather than thinking."
You played in warm weather at Fort Dorchester and Florida. Now you play in Cincinnati, which can have some nasty weather in December. How did you adjust?
"The humidity here is different than it was in Charleston and Gainesville. Eighty-five degrees in Cincinnati isn't the same as 85 degrees in Charleston and Florida. The humidity is a lot worse in the South. When it gets cold, I just put on another layer and use Vaseline, baby oil, tricks like that. The biggest thing about the weather in the winter is driving in the snow. I had to learn that on the fly. I live two minutes from the stadium and one day it snowed and it took me an hour to get home."
What kind of goals have you set for yourself for this season?
"I want to pick up where I left off. I had 9 1/2 sacks last year and want to get 18 or whatever it takes to lead the league. I was blessed with good speed and size, so it's just a matter of beating your opponent off the ball. I've been a little dinged up with a knee injury this summer, but it's just a small speed bump. I will be ready."
There have been many transitions for the Bengals, including quarterback Carson Palmer deciding not to play. What is your forecast for the Bengals this season?
"We're going to be a lot better. We have a lot of young gunners on the team, and we're getting the pieces in place for a dynasty. I'm putting my faith in this team and am ready to ride that train to success. As far as Carson Palmer, it was his decision. He was comfortable with his decision and was ready to retire. He was adamant about not playing in Cincinnati."
What's your favorite stadium in the NFL?
"I like the (New York) Jets' stadium. It's really nice and the fans are a little on the interesting side. If you've seen the stadium and been there, you know it's sort of like the Times Square of the NFL stadiums."