Oct 9, 2011; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Thomas Howard (53) reacts with a smile as he stretches during warm up drills before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Fernando Medina-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals linebacking corp may get a complete makeover this offseason after it was one of the few liabilities on a defense that finished 2012 in the top-10. Rookie Vontaze Burfict lead the team with 127 tackles, and he’s the only player expected to remain a starter next year, though it could in the middle after he played every game last year at the weakside spot, also known as the “Will”.
The man who could take over the weakside is Thomas Howard. Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer spoke with Howard about the progress he’s making after tearing his ACL in a September practice. Howard played every snap of the Week 1 loss at Baltimore, but later suffered the season-ending injury in the teams’ next practice:
after he entered the 2012 season as the starting WLB:
"The knee is doing absolutely fabulous. We’re right on pace and I’ll be back strong next year."
He’ll become an unrestricted free agent next month, but believes there’s a good chance he’ll return after leading the team in tackles with 120 in 2011. The Bengals should make every attempt to sign him and provide the team with, at-worst, some good depth behind whoever mans the Will.