The positives in this group of Bengals are the outside linebackers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard. Both played extremely well last year as first year Bengals. Having both of these players back in the fold this year brings a high caliber of play and legitimate experience. The issue with the linebacker corps is depth and instability in the middle for at least a portion of the season.
Rey Maualuga, the incumbent middle linebacker is facing a possible suspension for an off the field incident that occurred during the off-season. Dan Skuta did a nice job filling in for Maualuga when he missed time in the past, but having stability at the position that is the quarterback of the defense is key. Also, Dontay Moch was handed a four game suspension for testing positive for illegal drugs. Although Moch has yet to play a down in his professional career, that is a big loss for this team because of lack of depth. With the departure of Brandon Johnson in free agency, the Bengals are left with many inexperienced linebackers and could face certain tragedy if one of the veteran starters is injured at any point in the season.