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Keith Rivers Makes His Return To Cincinnati This Sunday

Former Bengals linebacker and top-ten pick, Keith Rivers makes his return to CIncinnati for the first time since being traded this offseason.

Jeff Zelevansky

As we noted when the 2012 schedule was released, this season is filled with familiar faces making returns to Paul Brown Stadium. There is an upcoming matchup against the Oakland Raiders and quarterback Carson Palmer and for wide receiver Andre Caldwell, now with the Denver Broncos. Another big reunion was set to take place with Chad Johnson and the Miami Dolphins, but his tenure there ended prematurely, so that didn't take place. There's another familiar face that will be making his return to PBS this Sunday with his new team--the New York Giants.

Going into the 2012 offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals felt that they had a crowded linebacker corps that was filled with a plethora of talent. A year before, the team invested in free agent weakside linebacker Thomas Howard and that decision paid off immensely as Howard became one of the team's best defensive players. Given Howard's performance from 2011, the Bengals found former top ten pick, Keith Rivers to be expendable. After all, Howard was originally signed as a band-aid to put over the hole that Rivers left with a wrist injury in 2011.

The Bengals ultimately traded Rivers to the Giants for a 2012 fifth round pick, No. 167 overall. That pick yielded the Bengals former Boise State safety, George Iloka. The young safety hasn't done much in his rookie campaign, toaling only two tackles. But, with the struggles that they have had at the position and Reggie Nelson battling an injury, Iloka could see extended time this week. Conversely, Rivers has been contributing for the Giants this season playing in five games and racking up 22 total tackles.

Though Rivers is questionable this week, his return would provide an interesting twist. He politely burned some bridges on his way out of Cincinnati (if that's event possible to be polite), claiming that he'll be a steal for the Giants and that he's "excited to be a part of a team that contends every year". Rivers also filed an injury grievance lawsuit against the Bengals, based on how they handled things with his wrist injury. Yeesh.

If the Bengals pull out an unexpected victory on Sunday, they'll not only help themselves out in the playoff picture, but give one of their former teammates a bitter defeat.