Remember the "Margus Hunt Show," in the Bengals' final preseason game last year?
The 6-8, 290-pound defensive end terrorized the Indianapolis Colts with three sacks and three additional QB hurries in a 35-7 win.
Unfortunately, one week later, Hunt suffered the first of several injuries that limited his impact to one sack in 12 regular-season games. He added a shared sack in the playoff loss at Indianapolis.
"I was called injury prone a lot, but it wasn't anything that had to do with me being weak," said Hunt. "In the first game at Baltimore, Steve Smith Sr. knocked the wind out of me and bruised my ribs. That lingered for half of the season. Then I got hit on the side of the knee in the Tennessee game. It was just all of these little things. An ankle injury kept me out for four weeks – it was just stuff like that. But this is football. Everybody gets hurt."
The ribs, knee, and ankle have healed. Now the 28-year-old is trying to rebound from a lower back injury suffered in the offseason.
"With an injury like that you have to be really careful, so we were really cautious about the rehab process and the strength process," said Hunt. "It just takes time to really get it to a point where we can start adding more stuff to it.
"It's about percent now, if not even more. I've been working out really good for a while now, but that is kind of different from what happens on the field."
Hunt will open training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He can be activated to practice as soon as he is cleared medically.
"I feel positive and confident that I will be back during camp and will be able to play in a preseason game at least – if not two – we'll see how it goes," he said. "It's just a matter of the coaches, the training room staff, and (strength coach) Chip Morton seeing where I'm at with football conditioning.
"We're still on the rough timeline for where we thought we would be. I was expecting and hoping to be back sooner and being healthy to go right now. But I will be taking part in the conditioning and testing and trying to see where I'm at with that and we'll go from there."
The former second round draft pick faces stiff competition for a roster spot in the crowded defensive line room.
"It will be a very competitive camp," Hunt said. "I have this little setback, but I just feel that if I go out there and do what I've been doing and what I can do, I definitely feel positive about still being part of this team.
"We're at the point right now where I can't take part in team activities yet, but it's a day-to-day basis. As of right now I'm still planning on playing in the regular season."
Hunt would not commit to a specific timetable for when he expects to practice, but the former SMU standout is clearly optimistic.
"I have a good feeling about it being sooner rather than later," he said. "There is no pain whatsoever right now."