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Bengals Must Prepare For Vontaze Burfict’s Potential Absence

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Sep 14, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) sits on the bench after coming out of the game in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Vontaze Burfict has given the Bengals reason to be concerned with his future after suffering several concussions and a knee injury, which required microfracture surgery after the season. Although his surgeon has expressed he expects him to return for 2015, if he has any setbacks, he may not be ready by training camp, preseason football, or even the early season games.

A.J. Hawk was brought to Cincinnati to increase the depth at weak side linebacker. He offers a great improvement to a weakened linebacker core, and especially when Burfict is out. He seems more determined than ever to return to playing meaningful football, doing so near home certainly shouldn’t hurt his motivation. Hawk, who became overshadowed by Clay Matthews half way through his tenure in Green Bay, holds the Packers’ tackle record. If returning home gives him a new spark, he could be a force to recon with, just a little slower than his Ohio State and early Packers days.

Hawk is not the only one securing depth at the linebacker position. Jayson DiManche has also helped the defense when their depth became dangerously shallow. He played a vital role when playing Indianapolis this past season when Rey Maualuga and Emmanuel Lamur were out for the game; the same game that saw Vontaze Burfict leave with a neck injury. DiManche has the ability to step up when called upon and fill-in where needed. It should help the Bengals greatly even if he ends up on the practice squad to start the season.

The Bengals must prepare for everything, and though we hope that we will see Vontaze Burfict at the start of training camp, nothing is guaranteed. The Bengals are in a better position heading into the 2015 season than they were in 2014, and we haven’t even hit the draft yet.

Next: Could 2015 Be Marvin Lewis' Make or Break Year?

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