Bengals LB Rey Maualuga ignores the criticisms but still looking to improve

USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga is looking to improve while deflecting all of the criticisms he faced last year.

After being shredded for nearly two seasons of mediocre production at middle linebacker, Rey Maualuga elected to return to Cincinnati as for two reasons, writes Carlos Holmes with the Dayton Daily News. Maualuga likes it in Cincinnati because it's the "best situation for him and his family" and he still wants to prove himself to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.

But one thing he's not particularly concerned about is what people outside of the organization thinks of him.

"I've received all the criticism, hate, tweets, Facebook posts and shrugged it off," Maualuga told Carlos Holmes in a one-on-one interview. "To concentrate on that would make me less of a player. If I'd let that stuff affect me I wouldn't have came back. Moving forward, I'm not focused on what they say here and there. It's a new season and everyone gets a fresh start. They can still talk. It will go in one ear and out the other."

That being said, Maualuga wants to improve off of 2012.

"I'm focused, determined and ready to wash out the nasty taste in my mouth from last year. I can sit here and talk all I want, but it's all about putting in the work and showing it on the field. That's what I am determined to do and that's what I'm going to do."

We wrote earlier this month that despite all of the criticisms leveled against Maualuga, we're actually projecting an improvement from Cincinnati's starting middle linebacker this year. Hoping that he has a nasty chip on his shoulder to prove everyone wrong, Maualuga's role in 2013 could be reduced as a two-down linebacker, avoiding the glaring weaknesses in pass coverage. Addition by subtraction, as the cliche lovers say.

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