As the 2014 NFL season draws closer, so too does the first big contract for Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The team is in deep negotiations with his camp, and the belief is a deal will get done before the start of the regular season.
Regardless, Burfict is going through this offseason like it's business as usual. That means going through every workout and every drill like a rookie in his first NFL practice.
"Vontaze Burfict is insane...in a good way," said Bengals reporter Dan Hoard. "The Pro Bowl linebacker oozes intensity in every drill and his defensive teammates follow his lead. There are times where you would like to see him take it easy for fear of injury, but that is simply not in his DNA. A great player who is still improving."
The key thing to me was 'great player who is still improving.' After being one of the top linebackers while leading the league in tackles last year, how easy would be for Burfict to rest on his laurels and remain at the level he's at?
This is a player that wants to be great, and to be great, you have to always strive to improve. By all indications, Burfict is doing that and then some this offseason. Not only is that important for him becoming an elite player, but also a leader that inspires his teammates.
"He’s what you want as the heartbeat of the defense," says Robert Geathers. "Everybody out there has their own energy, but we kind of feed off him a little bit. When it gets a little tough and you start looking around, you can look at that guy and you know he’s there."
"I feel like the defense feeds off me," Burfict says. "If I bring my energy, if I’m out there seeing red dots and stuff, I think they’ll follow my lead. Whatever I do, I feel like they’ll follow me. If I’m on fire, they’ll realize that.
The thought of him being better in 2014 than he was in 2013 is truly frightening to the rest of the NFL.