Earlier this week defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said that outside linebacker Rey Maualuga was "extremely average" in 2010. Come to think of it, wasn't that the case with all of the Bengals linebackers last year? "He's undisciplined," Zimmer said. "Half of our whole defensive team is undisciplined. That's why we give up big plays." Maualuga finished the season third on the team with 81 tackles and two interceptions, which led the front seven. He also recorded a quarterback sack and six quarterback pressures.
With two seasons under his belt and Dhani Jones likely entering free agency, Maualuga is looking at a more active role as a leader.
"It's my time to stand up and prove them wrong," Maualuga said. "Use it as a fuel to gain what I know I can become. I can't be just some random dude walking around the locker room anymore."
Maualuga was forced to play outside linebacker after Jones signed a three-year deal in 2008, posting 163 tackles in the first year of that contract that expires on Friday. Jones recorded a team-high 465 tackles in the past three seasons.
Maualuga, selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, has two years remaining on his rookie contract with a base salary of $480,000 in 2011 and $565,000 in 2012. Pro Football Focus graded Maualuga as the team's second-best defender with a team-leading 11.6 against the run.