When Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga was carted off the field against the New York Jets with an MCL sprain, the recently signed Michael Boley replaced him. Then as the team prepared for practice against the Miami Dolphins, Boley was forced to sit with a hamstring.
Next man up.
Vincent Rey, who signed as a college free agent out of Duke following the 2010 NFL draft, was originally a practice squad player before he was signed on the team's 53-man roster several months into his rookie season. Not only has he remained on the team's 53-man roster since, he's actively played 44 straight games, mostly as a special teams player.
With Maualuga and Boley out against the Dolphins, Rey has finally been granted an opportunity to make his mark on defense. After finishing tied for third on the team in tackles against the Dolphins, Rey was given another start on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Not only was he a serviceable contributor -- he was a defensive maniac.
Rey led the defense with 13 tackles, three quarterback sacks, three tackles for loss, three passes defensed, and an interception, while maintaining his role on special teams with two additional stops. Two of his sacks were on third down, forcing the Ravens to punt.
Rey was exceptionally impressive on passing downs, generating a quality pass rush with three sacks and an additional three hits on the quarterback. Even when players were catching the football, Rey was making no-gain tackles on backs out of the backfield, such as the stop on Ray Rice with 12:29 remaining in the second quarter.
Two plays later, Rey posted his first career interception on a pop-up thanks to Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson's assault of Joe Flacco as Baltimore had reached the Bengals 33-yard line.
It's unknown when Maualuga will return -- the belief is that he'll be ready after the bye week. Boley should be close -- he was limited in practice this week. That being said, Rey should be given every opportunity to keep the job in the starting lineup.