The Cincinnati Bengals are still pretty thin at the linebacker position, despite promoting J.K. Schaffer from the practice squad and getting some exceptional play from Vinnie Rey. With Michael Boley being unable to even stay healthy enough to play after the team signed him a month ago, he could be on the chopping block heading into the bye week with Rey Maualuga coming back from an MCL sprain.
If the team does decide to part ways with Boley, they’ll likely give former starting weakside linebacker Thomas Howard a call after he was cut by the Atlanta Falcons today. Howard was active for two games with the Falcons after signing with them on Oct. 22, but the team saw no reason to keep him after they activated Pro Bowl linebacker Sean Weatherspoon from the I.R. today to take his spot.
After tearing his ACL during a Week 2 practice last year, Howard was lost for the year, and Vontaze Burfict emerged in his place to take over the weakside linebacker spot. This, after he lead the team in tackles with 120 in 2011.
It’s hard to imagine with his knowledge of Mike Zimmer’s system, and just assuming he’s able to get onto the football field, that he’s not a better option than Boley. The Bengals have already hosted Howard in September for a workout after Emmanuel Lamur suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during the preseason finale. Howard isn’t going to come here and make any kind of significant impact, but he could come in and certainly do enough to earn 5-10 snaps per game ahead of Jayson DiManche and Schaffer.