With Vontaze Burfict likely out, Vincent Rey Gets His Shot
Aug 28, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals middle linebacker Vincent Rey (57) participates in warm ups prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
When the Cincinnati Bengals take the field this weekend versus the Titans, they likely be without star linebacker Vontaze Burfict; he was diagnosed this week with his second concussion in two weeks.
This should certainly raise concerns within the Bengals organization and so it seems unlikely they’d risk Burfict’s health for numerous reasons. He’ll likely need more than a week to get healthy, so it’s lucky the Bengals have an early season bye next week. In the meantime, the Bengals will need someone to step up in Burfict’s stead. The likely candidate is Emmanuel Lamur, who’s played nearly all of the defensive snaps thus far for the Bengals. He’s an incredibly talented linebacker who’ll need to come up big this week as the Titans possess a dangerous receiving tight end in Delanie Walker. Because Lamur is so skilled in coverage, he may have to focus on Walker early and often hopefully plugging a typical hole in the Bengals’ defense; they’ve historically struggled against receiving tight ends. This leaves fellow linebacker Vincent Rey as the likely candidate to take over the many other duties that Burfict usually handles.
Thus far this season, Vincent Rey has seen the field for 64% of the defense’s snaps; a substantial bump from last year’s 31.8%. Much of this likely has to do with Burfict’s general absence from the first two games, which has seen him play only 34.6% of the defense’s snaps; Burfict played 95.9% of the snaps last year. Rey will need to come up big this week as the Titans’ will be looking to emphasize the run game over the pass. Rey had a solid game against the Ravens recording four tackles (two solo), two pass deflections, and one QB hit; he was quiet in the Falcons’ game, but this can be attributed to the Falcons’ relentless use of three to four wide receiver sets. Rey will certainly get a heavy dosage of playing time as the Bengals will likely utilize their base set more often than they did in Week Two. More importantly, as the Bengals often prefer to use the nickel set, Rey will likely find himself alongside Lamur in this role. Lamur typical focuses on coverage duties while Burfict is allowed more freedom because he doesn’t have to be used in coverage as often as he was in the past. This week will likely look similar, which will allow Rey to utilize all his talents.
When Vincent Rey filled in for Rey Maualuga last year, he made his impact felt all over the field. In three starts, he proved his pass-rushing skills by accumulating three sacks and four QB hits while also making his impact felt all over the field accumulating 32 tackles (22 solo) and four TFLs. Rey also proved his merit in pass coverage by deflecting four passes and intercepting one (see Games 9-11). With this kind of talent, Rey certainly is capable to filing the versatile role of Vontaze Burfict.
But Rey’s impact doesn’t stop there. The Bengals rely heavily upon the knowledge and leadership of Burfict when he’s on the field. Rey will need to do his best to fill in this role as well, and he’s prepared. Vincent Rey is a well respected player amongst the team. He’s a guy who came in as an UDFA and earned his place. He’s become the captain of the special teams unit and is now working his way into the defense. Here’s a few things special team’s coach Darrin Simmons had to say about the fifth-year veteran.
"“He’s a great leader. He’s not only a guy that excels in the classroom; he brings it to the field.”“Guys respect Vinnie because of how hard he works. He may not be the most vocal guy, the guy that you follow because of what he says. But you follow him by what he does. He’s got the respect of the younger players. He knows everything as well as I do. That’s a calming thing.”"
It’s this type of impact that may most benefit the Bengals on Sunday. Having a guy who is level-headed and knows how to lead will bring players onto the same page in the most crucial moments. And if the game is close, the Bengals will need this.
Leadership, pass and run defense, and having worked his way up from the bottom as an UDFA, are we talking about Vontaze Burfict or Vincent Rey? If the Bengals are to win this Sunday presumably without their defense’s “heart,” then the answer to this question may need to be as vague as it sounds.