CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01: Rey Maualuga #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals takes the field for the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga started 13 games this year, missing three due to an ankle sprain suffered during an October 13 practice earlier this year. According to Bengals.com beat writer Geoff Hobson, Maualuga is "believed to be undergoing ankle surgery sometime soon." Maualuga posted a career-high in tackles and a team-leading three forced fumbles during his first year as the team's starting middle linebacker.
Maualuga missed games against the Indianapolis Colts, the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans. Backup linebacker Dan Skuta started in his place, registering 19 tackles including a team-high nine tackles against the Titans. Pro Football Focus rated Skuta as one of the team's better linebackers this year.
Maualuga has faced criticism during his first campaign as the team's middle linebacker, mostly for being over-aggressive, inconsistent while struggling to chip off blocks when he's at the point of attack. Pro Football Focus rated Maualuga as the team's worst linebacker (-6.3) and the third-worst defensive player overall. Though he did register an interception, his pass coverage (-5.7) was often the biggest detriment.