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Baltimore Ravens Express Respect In Linebacker Vontaze Burfict

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Not only is Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict impressing Bengals fans, but he's earning some respect against one of the team's top divisional rivals.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive guard Bobbie Williams can't stop talking about Cincinnati, as the Bengals beat writers join the media chaos in New Orleans during Super Bowl week. Rather than the city, Williams talked about his experiences with Bengals rookie Vontaze Burfict earlier this year, writes Geoff Hobson.

I like him. He plays hard," Williams admitted. "I respect him." But not before the former Bengal pointed to a mark on his leg. "This is where he kicked me in the shin. "I was like, 'you little...'"

...

"He's a good kid. He's really a good kid," Williams said. "He was like, 'What did I do?' You know me, I might be heated one minute, but then I'm going to calm down. As long as he keeps his head on and focused, he should be fine."

What I found a little interesting however was Ray Rice's apology after the regular season finale, where Rice took out Burfict's legs on a blitz, then "appeared" to elbow him after the play.

"I talked to him after the game and you know what? I was honest with him," Rice said. "He's going to be a great linebacker in the league. I just told him that if he ever got to the point where he let his pads do the talking, he'll be all right. I got carried away myself but he's a young guy. I didn't say anything until I went to three Pro Bowls. There's no need to leave things on the field. There's no hate. There's none of that."

Burfict finished the season with a team leading 174 tackles during his rookie year.