BY SEAN DONOVAN
New York Jets right guard Willie Colon spent his first seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a division rival of his opponent this Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals.
He watched first hand over the years as the Bengals went from perennial also-rans to one of the AFC's top teams.
"I’ve watched that team go from a bottom-of-the-barrel team where nobody respected them to now they’re a legit contender." Colon said this week, via NewYorkJets.com. “You’ve got to respect their progress."
Cincinnati sits at an AFC North-leading 5-2 this season thanks in large part to a seventh-ranked scoring defense, which is keyed by one of the league's most dominating defensive lines, against which Colon again has first hand experience.
"Those guys are playing high-motor, they’re strong and physical, and they’re getting after the quarterback," Colon said. "We have to be able to be at our A-game."
Last time he faced the Bengals, in 2012, Colon gave up two sacks, one coming at the hands of defensive tackle Geno Atkins after he threw the then-Steelers guard to the ground.
Atkins, who has emerged as one of the league's elite interior defensive lineman, has the attention of the entire Jets offensive line. He's tied for the Bengals team lead with four sacks on the season, all the more impressive coming from the defensive tackle spot.
"His ability to play fast, he’s disruptive, extremely strong,” Colon said of the challenges Atkins presents. “He’s one of those guys who if you don’t bring your hard hat, he could disrupt a whole game for you."
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