- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- Andrew Whitworth, the outspoken Pro Bowl veteran and unofficial spokesman of the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line, has the perfect solution for handling Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and the post-play antics that have caused most around the NFL to consider him a dirty player.
When they face the 307-pounder and the rest of the intimidating defensive line that boasts two other first-round draft picks Sunday afternoon, Whitworth believes he and his teammates need to have one concern: block him.
"It doesn't matter the extra antics that he does. They don't help him win," Whitworth said. "What helps them win is if you are worried about him and everyone takes a shot on him. Some of the stuff you've seen makes you ask, what will teams do? But if you are worried about whether or not you can get a cheap shot in, too, then you are playing into their game.
"The truth is, we need to worry about stopping him from getting to the quarterback and blocking him in run plays and scoring points. It really doesn't matter what else he does."
The NFL certainly cares about what Suh does post whistle. On Wednesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Suh was fined for the seventh time of his four-year career for a hit on Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden last weekend. This time, Suh will be short $31,500, Schefter reported.
One of Suh's earliest fines came in August of 2011, when the NFL docked him $20,000 for a hit during a preseason game on Cincinnati's then-rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. The play in question came in the first quarter of Dalton's first game in a Bengals uniform. Suh broke past the offensive line, galloped into the backfield toward Dalton, and in one motion, grabbed the quarterback -- who had just gotten rid of the football -- around the neck, forcing his helmet to come off. Even as the helmet came dislodged, Suh's momentum continued, resulting in him picking up Dalton and slamming him, helmet-less, into the ground.
The Bengals remember the play quite well, but good luck getting any of them to talk about it this week. Many of them don't want to feed a story line that they don't think exists.
"He's a good player," Dalton said Wednesday, asked about the preseason hit. "He's an aggressive guy. He's a disruptive guy. So you've got to find ways to slow him down. You've got to do certain things because he's pretty good. We know where he's going to be, but it's a big challenge for us."
He had nothing else to say about the takedown.
Bengals center Kyle Cook, who was working on a double-team on another Lions defensive tackle when Suh ripped past and into Dalton two years ago, was similarly noncommittal when asked if Suh was a dirty player.
"He's a good player," Cook said, staying tight-lipped. "He's a good player."
Pushed a little further, Cook provided a slightly deeper answer.
"He plays with passion, obviously," Cook said. "Some people think his passion is stretched out at times to where he does some things that he probably wishes he didn't do but in the moment he thought were in the game."
Whether or not they are distressed about Suh's after-the-whistle play, the Bengals do truly seem to respect him.
"You are going to play lots of guys who have antics and a lot of that crap. It's going to happen," Whitworth said. "He happens to be a real good player who also has it so more people know him because of that. ... He's just a football player who plays the game intensely. You don't want him to take some cheap shot on you on an interception where you don't see him coming, but you can't really do anything about it. Truth is, let's just talk about blocking their guys and winning the football game."
12hJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com
14hJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com