"We got a lot of veteran guys that are pushing everybody to be that mean defense that everybody is expecting us to be. Just expect a defense and a team that was better than last year's. "
That's what Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga said to Carlos "Big C" Holmes of Dayton Daily News during one of the defense's practices in Mason last week.
Maualuga went on to talk about his disappointment with his personal performance throughout the 2010 season, but said that he will be better in 2011, especially as a leader.
"Last year, I just stood back and watched and observed," Maualuga said. "This year, I'll do my best to be more vocal and lead by example. And just to be a better overall player than I was last year. I wasn't the player I expected to be and I wasn't the player that people expected, or wanted me to be. It's going to be different. I see these other guys who are flourishing and shining, you know, while I could be doing the same thing."
Maualuga will need to be better in 2011. Dhani Jones is a free agent and it's unclear as to whether or not the Bengals will re-sign the veteran linebacker. If they don't, it's likely that Mike Zimmer will move Maualuga to middle linebacker, where he played in college and has probably belonged all along.
Of his future position change, Maualuga believes that playing outside linebacker will help him lead the defense as the middle linebacker.
"I played it [middle linebacker] for four years and outside for two years," Maualuga said. "It gives me a chance to be more diverse. I get to know what SAM's doing and at the same time I know what I'm doing, so it makes it a little quicker to read."
Here is the video from Holmes' interview with Maualuga: