clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rey Maualuga's Transition Back To Middle Linebacker Has Earned Him Praise From Teammates

It only took two seasons behind Dhani Jones before linebacker Rey Maualuga shifted into his "natural position" as the team's middle linebacker, even after a solid 2010 campaign at strong-side linebacker with six quarterback pressures, a quarterback sack, two interceptions and 81 tackles, which ranked third on the team. Encouraging as it is hearing that this transition is moving along smoothly, it's the praise he's receiving from his teammates and his coaching staff that's the most promising. Bengals linebacker Manny Lawson, signed after Roddrick Muckelroy suffered a season-ending injury, said:

"He's young. For somebody so young, he's experienced," Lawson said after Monday night's practice. "He has a motor, he's aggressive, he's everything you want in a linebacker. Now he's playing the middle so he's coming downhill. I'm happy he's on my team. I'm happy I don't play offense. Whoever does play offense has to keep their eyes open. I'll guarantee you we'll be hearing about Rey soon and far into the season."

Thomas Howard, signed after the team learned about Keith Rivers' wrist injury, says:

"That's where he belongs; in the middle," said Thomas Howard, the other veteran who has arrived from Oakland to play next to Maualuga at WILL. "He has that presence of a natural leader. He has a nice huddle presence. He's very comfortable there. He gets the calls out nice and clear, he makes the checks loud. To be a Mike (middle linebacker) you have to be smart and tough and Rey is both of those. You're the quarterback of the defense."

Veteran Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson agrees:

"He has a natural feel for it. He's been doing well with communications," Johnson said. "He's done a good job of taking the huddle and guys have done a good job giving him that control and not talking. Let him get in, relax, do his thing and I think he'll be fine. It's tough to replace (Jones's) veteran leadership. He's been in the league for 1,000 years, but for Rey, he's a natural. I think it will be like riding a bike for him."