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Mike Zimmer Says Leon Hall, Terence Newman Likely To Start

Mike Zimmer joined Lance McAlister on 700WLW and talked about the re-signing of Terence Newman and Rey Maualuga on Tuesday.

Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer joined Lance McAlister on 700WLW on Tuesday evening and discussed the team's re-signings of cornerback Terence Newman and Rey Maualuga.

When asked what Dre Kirkpatrick's role will be on the defense, Zimmer said that if he's the best player, he'll be on the field, but for now, Leon Hall and Newman will be the team's starting cornerbacks.

Zimmer said that they haven't seen enough of Kirkpatrick due to the injury suffered in 2012 and once they figure out what he can do and see him in action more than they have, they'll know if he's the player they hoped they drafted when they used their No. 17 overall pick on him. Zimmer also said that the re-signing Newman is a good edition based on how he played last year and the Bengals are expecting big things from the 34-year-old cornerback.

When asked how it felt to know that Newman re-signed with the Bengals because of the loyalty he fells to Zimmer, the defensive coordinator said it made him happy to know that he's doing his job.

"If you're a good coach and you push them hard, they respect you," Zimmer said. "I try to get them better each and every day."

Zimmer also defended the team's re-signing of Rey Maualuga, saying the inside linebacker played much better than he was given credit for. Zimmer says he hears the criticisms against Maualuga from analysts and fans but said that Maualuga plays as well or better than many of the middle linebackers throughout the league.

"He does outstanding things in the run game," Zimmer said. "He understands coverages very well. He's better than most people think he is."

The Bengals have consistently had a solid defense under Zimmer's direction. In 2012, the Bengals' sixth-ranked defense was responsible for the 10-6 record and the fact that they won seven of the last eight games of the season, especially when the offense began to struggle to score.

With a few additions at key positions, the Bengals' could have one of the top three defenses in the league in 2013, which would go a long way to help them reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season.