The Guenther Factor – Part II: Depth
Sep 16, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (58) tackles Pittsburgh Steelers tight end David Paulson (81) during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Linebacker competition will be even fiercer. Incumbents Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga can be all but penciled in. Also, Vincent Rey showed sparks that nearly caught PBS on fire during last season’s two game stint filling in at MIKE. His development thus far in his four-year career as a Bengal suggests he has not hit his ceiling yet, making Rey another leading candidate for the final roster. Provided his injury from last year’s preseason has returned him to form, Emmanuel Lamur will likely be included as a “nickel-backer.” This leaves a single linebacker position likely in competition.
Last season rookies Jayson DiManche and JK Shaffer demonstrated promise and because of injuries became included on the final roster. Taylor Mays served briefly as a coverage linebacker in response to Lamur’s injury, before succumbing to his own season ending injury. By renewing his contract this past offseason, the Bengals have signaled that they would like to retain his services, though it is curious if he will assume a linebacker or safety position on the final roster… assuming of course that he makes the final roster, that is. Do not forget that Brandon Joiner and rookie Marquis Flowers are waiting in the wings as well.
In its own distinct vein of hybridizing, a safe speculation offers that Dontay Moch could be worked as a pass-rushing linebacker from the SAM position or a defensive end with his hands in the dirt. However, he first has to make roster before his role can be fully defined. Should his skills be of game day caliber (a big ‘should’ considering his history) Moch could serve as both the fifth defensive end as well as the sixth linebacker. His potential could translate to critical diversification and depth.