Last year, the Bengals were the victim of the constant mediocrity of Rey Maualuga at linebacker. In 2012, Pro Football Focus rated Rey Maualuga as the worst inside linebacker. Maualuga missed sixteen tackles, which was tied for fifth most in the league for inside linebackers. Despite this constant poor performance, both Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer have stated that they both would like for Maualuga to be back in Cincinnati next season. However, it is about time to find a fresh new addition to the linebacker corps for the coming season that can challenge Maualuga, if his constant poor play continues.
It has been reported that Vontaze Burfict will assume the role as the middle linebacker in Mike Zimmer’s defense for the 2013 season. Last year, Burfict reminded many why he was touted as a first round talent coming out of college before personal issues left him undrafted. Burfict finished last season with 127 total tackles, which was twelfth in the league. With a full season of offseason workouts and OTAs, Burfict is in a prime position to take the league by storm next year.
The 2013 season also means a healthy Thomas Howard coming back from a knee injury that kept him out practically all of last season. Next season, the Bengals will get back a player in Howard capable of being successful at the weak-side linebacker position, which he proved in 2011 when he led the team in tackles.