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Bengals Bye Week Report Card: Linebackers

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The Bengals linebackers have some new faces in their ranks. The team signed Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson after Keith Rivers and Roddrick Muckelroy were injured. Both Lawson and Howard have been regular starters and Howard, in particular, has been very impressive. Rey Maualuga has also moved to the middle linebacker position, where he played in college, after the team decided not to re-sign Dhani Jones. Brandon Johnson was also re-signed by the team.

Here is a basic statistical breakdown of the Bengals linebackers through the first six games of the 2011 NFL season.

Week 1 (At Cleveland):

  • Tackles: Maualuga (6), Howard (7), Lawson (1)
  • Sacks: Zero
  • Passes Defensed: Zero
  • Stops -- (PFF: Solo defensive tackles that constitute an offensive failure): Maualuga (4), Howard (1)

Week 2 (At Denver):

  • Tackles: Howard (8), Maualuga (7), Lawson (2)
  • Sacks: Zero
  • Passes Defensed: Lawson (2)
  • Stops: Maualuga (3), Howard (2)

Week 3 (San Francisco):

  • Tackles: Maualuga (8), Howard (5), Lawson (4), Skuta (4)
  • Sacks: 0.5 -- Skuta
  • Passes Defensed: Zero
  • Stops: Howard (3)

Week 4 (Buffalo):

  • Tackles: Howard (6), Maualuga (11)
  • Sacks: Zero
  • Passes Defensed: Zero
  • Stops: Maualuga (4), Howard (3)

Week 5 (At Jacksonville):

  • Tackles: Howard (5), Maualuga (6), Lawson (2)
  • Sacks: Zero
  • Passes Defensed: Maualuga (1), Lawson (1)
  • Stops: Maualuga (3), Howard (3), Lawson (2),

Week 6 (Indianapolis):

  • Tackles: Johnson (4), Skuta (5), Lawson (1), Howard (3)
  • Sacks: Zero
  • Passes Defensed: Lawson (1), Johnson (1)
  • Stops: Howard (1), Skuta (1), Johnson (2)

Grade: B

Obviously the linebackers are a big factor in the Bengals having the No. 2 ranked defense but they have been inconsistant at time, outside of Howard who has been fairly consistant throughout the season so far. Howard has actually been so good that I personally doubt that the team brings Rivers back when he's healed. I think they'll likely place him on IR.

Maualuga started off slow but progressively got better as the weeks wore on. He missed the team's last game with an inured ankle.

Lawson has just kind of been there. He hasn't made any eye-popping plays that were either good or bad.

Both Brandon Johnson and Dan Skuta have been decent when played.

What grade would you give the Bengals linebackers through the first six games of the 2011 season?