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Thomas Howard Expressed "Optimism That He Could Return" In 2013

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Thomas Howard expressed optimism that he could return to Cincinnati in 2013.

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If not for Thomas Howard's knee injury that placed him on Injured Reserve in early September, rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict may have not had the opportunities that he did to lead the team with 174 tackles. Yet Howard did suffer an ACL injury during a Thursday practice leading into the second game of the season against the Cleveland Browns. Now he's continuing his rehabilitation, entering the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, writes Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"The knee is doing absolutely fabulous. We're right on pace and I’ll be back strong next year," Howard said.

Howard also said that he is continuing to rehab down at Dr. James Andrews’ institute in Pensacola, Fla., with a couple other players that he knows.

Howard expressed "optimism that he could return" during the Taste of the NFL event this weekend.

Signed in 2011 to replace an injured Keith Rivers, Howard ended up leading the team with 120 tackles in 2011, also contributing with two forced fumbles and four passes defenced. Howard recently completed a two-year deal worth $6.5 million.