Cincinnati OT Andre Smith vs. Minnesota DE Brian Robison
Minnesota right defensive end Jared Allen gets most of the attention, but the man on the other side of the line, Robison, is quietly putting together the kind of season that could send him to his first Pro Bowl.
A seventh-year player from Texas, the 6-foot-3, 259-pound Robison is tied with Allen for the team lead in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (13) while leading the Vikings with 38 quarterback hurries. His seven passes defensed are the most among Minnesota defensive linemen.
When asked what makes Robison so special, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said “Speed and tenacity. He just stays after the quarterback. Really plays hard. He reminds me a lot of the guy who played for me in Baltimore, Mike McCrary, who just plays flat hard all the time.”
Eight of Robison’s nine sacks have come in the last seven games, and he has at least one in five straight games.
Smith has played well this year for the Bengals, earning a positive ranking in pass blocking from ProFootballFocus.com, but this will be a huge test for him.
“Robison is playing very well,” Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. “They’ve got some players over there that can play and do some damage. It reminds me of the Philadelphia game we played last year on Thursday night. Philadelphia had kind of a low-ranked defense but they could rush. These guys are the same way. They can rush.”