To finish off the starting trio, there’s middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. Once again say what you want, but Maualuga is one of the best early-down, run-stopping linebackers in the league. He excels in that area. Yes, he is still a liability in pass coverage. But, with the presence of Dansby, Vinny Rey, and the nickel package, the Bengals can mask his weaknesses.
Speaking of Vinny Rey, he’s a starter for more than half of the teams in the league. He excels in everything Maualuga doesn’t. I guess, that’s the reason he’s a backup in Cincinnati. For Paul Dawson, it wasn’t that long ago when we were yelling about how he was the steal of the draft and he’s basically a spitting image of Vontaze.
Nick Vigil? Dansby says it best.
"“He’s got a lot of intangible you can’t coach. That’s what you want in a linebacker. He’s solid all the way around. He flies around, he gets to the ball, he makes plays when there’s an opportunity. He kind of reminds me of myself, he’s a rangy kid.”"
If Dansby will vouch for the rookie, that’s all you need to know.
Jayson DiManche and Marquis Flowers might be on the roster bubble, but that’s not because of their talent or their special team contributions. DiManche was an undrafted free agent who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s been buried under the depth, but when given the chance he has shown that he can produce. Flowers still needs time to grow, but he is slowly getting there.
The Bengals linebacker corps has veterans, rookies, pass rushers, run stoppers, sideline-to-sideline and pass coverage types of guys. Each linebacker does something different. The intangibles really complete the whole picture. It’s ironic that Cincinnati’s linebacker room beats out Super Bowl heavies like the Carolina Panthers and Seahawks. Maybe this is a sign that Cincinnati is next.