The quarterback of the Bengals top-10 defense, MLB Rey Maualuga, will also be in a contract year, and needs a solid year to warrant a contract that keeps him in Cincy. Its’ been a bumpy road for the former All-American out of USC, as he’s struggled with arrests, injuries, and inconsistent play while playing the hardest position on defense for one of the toughest defensive minds in football in Mike Zimmer.
On the field, Rey has been an enigma. He began his NFL career as an outside linebacker after playing at USC in the middle. After two seasons, he moved inside last season and had mixed reviews. Rey started out the year playing at a high level, but his play fell off late in the year and he became a liability. He can be very physical and land the big-hit, but often whiffs on tackles leading to big plays given up. His inconsistency, and tendency to be out of position by either over-pursuit, or getting caught up in blocks hurt the defense late last season as the Bengals were gashed up the middle by the Ravens and Texans in the midst of the teams’ 2-game losing streak to end the season. He attributed his poor play down the stretch to an ankle injury, the same ankle he broke that cost him the remaining 2 games of the 2009 season. Rey has only missed 4 games in his 3-year career, so he clearly knows how to play with pain, but he has to be more consistent with his play if wants to remain the starting MLB for the Bengals.