Bengals’ Emmanuel Lamur: As Advertised
Aug 24, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (59) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
After over a yearlong wait, Bengals talented linebacker Emmanuel Lamur finally made his return to the field following a shoulder injury last year which ended his year during the preseason. The Bengals have long lauded Lamur’s talent and have been boisterous when addressing his potential on the field. Yesterday, Lamur proved the Bengals’ assertions correct by starting off 2014 with a bang.
Lamur came to the Bengals as an UDFA following the 2012 NFL draft. A converted linebacker after playing safety for much of his football life, Lamur possessed the size, speed, and coverage ability that the Bengals sought for their linebacking corps. His physical attributes and ability likens that of Seattle’s super-safety Kam Chancellor. Being 6’4″, 240 pounds, and possessing great speed and safety experience, Lamur has the skills to possibly negate opposing pass-catching tight ends; the type of opponent that has caused the Bengals serious problems in the past. Guenther had this to say regarding Lamur and his coverage ability over the off-season.
"“He’s got good ball awareness in zone and he’s a good man-to-man guy. He’s a guy you like to go to with everyone playing two tight ends. He’s tall and he can run with those guys and you don’t get caught in a mismatch. He can help you in a lot of different ways. He’s smart. He knows the defense and the techniques.”"
Lamur put these skills to good use yesterday while helping to defend the Ravens’ dangerous tight end duo of Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels (who came to the Ravens from Houston along with new OC Gary Kubiak). Although the duo combined for 14 catches and 117 yards, Lamur helped the Bengals’ defense continue to “bend, but not break” and keep this duo from putting points on the board. Lamur even came up with an interception on a pass that was intended for Daniels on the Ravens second possession of the second half, which probably saved a field goal at least.
But Lamur’s biggest impact came in lieu of Vontaze Burfict. Near the end of the first half Burfict went down with a concussion, after delivering a big hit to Joe Flacco, and never returned to the game. Lamur played 99% of the Bengals’ total defensive snaps yesterday while accumulating nine of his 11 tackles after Burfict left the game. More than his skill, it’s Lamur’s knowledge of the defense and the game which allowed him to fill in for Burfict so effectively. Paul Guenther lauds Lamur’s ability and flexibility within this defense in this statement made earlier this off-season.
"“He gives you great ability to change the look of the fronts,” Guenther said. “He’s a smart player. He’s a player who knows the defense. Maybe not as much as Burfict because he was out last year, but he’s that kind of guy that understands the big picture. Having him back is a big advantage for us.”"
Lamur’s impact on yesterday’s game should not be understated. Fans need to know that he was huge for this team in the absence of Burfict. No doubt Burfict’s loss was substantial as the defense conceded all 16 points in the second half, but Lamur did extraordinarily well especially considering this was his first meaningful action since the team’s last playoff loss against the Texans.
Prior to the season, Lamur was labeled as a potential breakout star by Football Outsiders. His defensive coordinator said he almost “fainted” when Lamur went down last year. After yesterday’s game, Lamur has begun to prove NFL minds correct while bringing some tranquility to Guenther. The Bengals’ defense primarily utilizes the nickel set meaning they only use two linebackers often. If Lamur continues to have this kind of impact on games, he and Burfict may surprise the league as one of the best linebacking duos the NFL has to offer.