Preseason games don’t get much uglier than the Cincinnati Bengals opener against the New York Jets. The one thing you want to do above everything else is make it through these meaningless games without anyone getting hurt. The Bengals managed to lose not one, not two, not three, but four starters in the game’s first quarter, a toll that had fans waving the white flag, ready to forfeit the remaining three periods and just get into the locker room before the whole team was on IR.
Mercifully, all but one of the injuries were relatively minor. Among the good news that emerged Tuesday was that Rey Mauluga’s MCL sprain would only cause him to miss tomorrow’s game against Atlanta. Maualuga expects to return to action in the regular season warm-up game against the Green Bay Packers.
Calling it the least severe of the MCL sprains, Maualuga said he'll make the trip to Atlanta for Thursday's game (8 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) and be on the sidelines to help linebackers coach Paul Guenther work with backup middle backers Roddrick Muckelroy and Vontaze Burfict. He said he'll start working on the sidelines with rehab director Nick Cosgray during Tuesday's practice.
While Rey’s rapid return is a welcome development, the injury kicks off a crucial season for the young linebacker on the wrong foot – or rather, knee. Back in June, Mojokong summarized the LB corps’ challenges, and I found myself nodding in agreement at his take on what Maualuga needs to do.
Rey Maualuga informed the world once more that he has been playing his position incorrectly. I feel we get one of these confessions about once a year from Rey… Maualuga has not become what we expected of him (as unrealistic as those expectations may have been), and to hear him always making excuses for his mediocrity is becoming as tired as his drinking shenanigans. All the world wants from him is a good middle linebacker, but he has been too many other persona to make that his reality.
With undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict flashing in camp and preseason games, and a contract that expires after the 2012 season, Rey needs to step up his game now or he could find himself hunting for a new team come next March. So his quick return to the field is encouraging, because he can’t afford to miss any opportunities to get better.