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Game Rewind: Margus Hunt dominant in preseason

A year ago at this time, monstrous Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Margus Hunt was the star of *Hard Knocks*, drawing comparisons to Rocky IV's steroid addled super villain Ivan Drago.

After essentially redshirting as a rookie, the 6-foot-8, 290-pound Estonian is now being likened to Houston Texans All-Pro J.J. Watt after collecting the Around The NFL Podcast's coveted Defensive Player of the Preseason award.

Hunt put the finishing touches on an impressive August by terrorizing Indianapolis Colts tackle Matt Hall for three sacks, four tackles for a loss and three more quarterback hurries in Thursday night's 35-7 victory.

"He should dominate in a game like this, and he did," coach Marvin Lewis, via the Bengals' official website after the game. "That's what you want to see. You want to see him dominate. That's the confidence he needs.

"A lot of guys can do good things in practice, but you have to go out and finish the rush. That's how you build your repertoire of moves."

Nicknamed "The Eastern Block" as a tribute to his homeland and an NCAA record-tying eight blocked field goals in 30 games at SMU, Hunt is a former World Junior champion in discus and shot put. That "freak of nature" strength, athleticism and untapped potential has been on display throughout the preseason.

Hunt produced what was arguably the preseason's most impressive play when he arm-tossed 6-foot-6, 325-pound Kansas City Chiefs tackle Jeffrey Linkenbach like a rag doll on his way to sacking Tyler Bray.

A week later, Hunt tore through the New York Jets' offensive line to thwart the ground attack, highlighted by a back-hand slap that sent tailback Alex Green sprawling to the turf.

"I was in the NFL for 13 years and I never saw a guy like him," SMU defensive line coach Bert Hill said last year. "Not with his abilities that he has right now, no. I didn't see a guy."

Now that Michael Johnson has defected to Tampa, Hunt is earmarked for a major uptick in playing time as part of a rotation with Carlos Dunlap, Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry.

There will be times this season when Hunt will appear to be unblockable. There will also be times when it's obvious that he has been playing football for less than a half-decade.

If we had to do it all over again, Hunt would replace Marvin Jones as the Bengals' top candidate to "make the leap" this season.

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" hands out the first annual Preseason Awards and predicts the major winners of the regular-season awards.

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