Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson was once again absent from practice today, and stepping in for him again this week will be Wallace Gilberry if Johnson is unable to play Sunday vs the Buffalo Bills. Gilberry has been one of the better rotational DEs you’ll find on any NFL team, as he’s registered seven sacks in his last 11 games while being on the field less than half of the defensive snaps.
But don’t mistake him for a situational pass-rusher. Gilberry’s performance this Week vs the New England Patriots showed he’s both a solid pass-rusher, as well as a good run-defender. He also drew high praise from the guys at Pro Football Focus, who tabbed him as one of their Secret Superstars of Week 5:
After a solid, if unspectacular, first season in Cincinnati, he got the opportunity to start in place of Michael Johnson last week, and he seized the opportunity with a fine performance.
Playing 13 snaps against the run, both of his solo tackles resulted in a defensive stop, giving him a Run Stop Percentage of 15.4%, albeit on a small sample size. It was as a pass rusher where he really impressed however, registering two sacks, two hits, and two hurries on 39 pass rushes. That would give him a Pass Rushing Productivity Rating of 14.3, fifth-highest among 4-3 defensive ends in Week 5.
Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has been able to bring the best out of Gilberry in Cincinnati, and though he still has occasional lapses, he’s proud of how Gilberry has stepped-up:
“He sometimes drives me crazy,” Zimmer said. “He doesn’t drive me crazy in the games, but sometimes he’s standing back there not paying attention and things like that, so I have to get on him a little bit. But he’s played good. He played very well this week. He had a couple nice rushes. He hit the quarterback the one time (for a roughing penalty). But it’s nice to have a guy in there to go along with Geno when they’re turning to him.”