Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga hasn't really been a disappointment, though it does seem like he disappears at times. Save for the flowing crazy hair creeping from the back of his helmet, his production sometimes falls quiet enough that you have to actively look for him just to make sure he's on the field. And maybe that's because he's not. Of nearly 600 passing plays that the Bengals have defended against, Maualuga has only participated in 206 of those snaps. A lot of that has to do with personnel packages. Dhani Jones played virtually every defensive snap while Brandon Johnson would replace Maualuga and Rivers in obvious passing situations.
Now that Jones is going to become a free agent when the new league year begins, Maualuga is the natural choice to become the team's starting middle linebacker. A role that he's taking on during recent defensive workouts.
“It felt good to be in the front of the huddle and having all eyes on you and making sure to break that huddle with confidence,” Maualuga said Tuesday. “This is a little bit of the playbook that we have installed, but at the same time I feel good about where we are and the progress that we’ve made.”
What's important is the leadership role he wants to implement himself with.
“When its third and short, I want everyone to look in my eyes and be confident that I can call a play, line everyone up and make that play,” he said. “I’m just trying to give it all I got. The best players play and if I don’t play, unfortunately that means I’m not the best player and there’s something wrong with my game.”