INDIANAPOLIS - This is why the Bengals took linebacker P.J. Dawson in the third round out of Texas Christian. The word was the only time he ever really impressed you was on game day and their gamer certainly showed up in Thursday's pre-season finale to help spur the Bengals' 9-6 defensive-plated victory.
Dawson played 95 percent of the snaps in by far his longest and best outing of the preseason at WILL backer and delivered a game-high nine tackles and two sacks. His sack that came on a patented Paul Guenther double a gap blitz keyed a surge at the end of the half that resulted in cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris' interception that set
up a field goal.
Dawson and linebacker Trevor Roach twisted on the blitz and Roach came back on the next series nearly got a hand on the ball that Lewis-Harris intercepted. On the play, linebacker Chris Carter was held for a penalty that was declined.
"I think I did it perfectly. It worked out for me," said Dawson of his sack.
That's no minor detail. Guenther, his defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach Matt Burke have been preaching technique and the habit of taking on blocks rather than getting out of his lane to make the splash plays. As Burke pointed out this week, when Dawson made a fourth-down stop on the goal line in Tampa, he kept lane integrity and has been improving with each snap.
"Two minor errors,"' is the way Dawson saw it in his 57 snaps.
But he also knows what got him here.
"I try to work on my technique as much as I can," Dawson said. "But at the end of the day I've got to play ball. I've got use my quickness and my strengths. I've got to do what I'm good at."
WINSTON WEIGHS IN: After the game, Bengals offensive lineman Eric Winston, the NFL Players Association president, elaborated on his thoughts in the wake of Thursday's ruling by a federal judge that overturned Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension.
"If you're a fan of fairness, if you're a fan of due process, if you're a fan of the American way, then I think it was a good day for you," Winston said. "It was a good day for players' rights."
Winston hopes the next step is coming up with an improved personal conduct policy league-wide.
"I've come to understand how important process is in everything you do," he said. "It's a long time coming that we put in place a process that prevents a loft of this stuff. It's not good for the game. It's not good for either side."