All of a sudden, the once-depleted Bengals linebacker group is starting to look a lot more stacked. There has been the addition of James Harrison on the outside and the report of the Bengals seemingly looking at re-signing veteran Thomas Howard as well. Now, there is another positive report that has surfaced about one of the young up-and-comers of the group.
According to Bengals.com editor, Geoff Hobson, second-year linebacker Emmanuel Lamur has added ten pounds of upper body muscle this offseason, bringing his weight up to 240. The good news is that he doesn't seem to have lost any of the speed that makes him an asset in nickel pass coverage situations.
Emmanuel Lamur,second year, 6-4, 240: Like Burfict, undrafted and gifted, he took a little longer to break in, but not much. He came off the practice squad the last nine games before becoming a regular in nickel and starting the Wild Card Game, and is considered their best cover backer. They love how long and fast he is and believe he'll only get better as dynamic space player. His teammates and coaches have been talking about how he's bulked up his upper body this offseason and looks about 10 pounds heavier than the rookie from Kansas State. "He looks like a different guy," they say.
There is always a note of caution that goes with a player that adds weight, but this seems to be siding on the positive. As Hobson notes, Lamur's strength is with his speed and pass coverage skills. However, if he hasn't lost a step and added bulk, it could help with his tackling ability.
It appears that the Bengals could go with a true rotation at linebacker, especially if Hobson's report about Howard re-joining Cincinnati comes to fruition. We could see the three "starters" as Harrison and Vontaze Burfict on the outside, with Rey Maualuga in the middle. Given that the Bengals frequently line up in nickel packages defensively, there could be a lot of times that the team sends Lamur and Howard (if indeed re-signed and healthy) out as cover men.
In truth, what Lamur and Howard both bring to the table is an area that the team struggled in last year. If Lamur continues to improve and get more playing time, the Bengals defense could be looking to finish in the top-ten once again this season.