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Bengals Rey Maualuga projected to start against the Giants

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Starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who missed eight practices during training camp, is expected to start this Friday when the Bengals open their preseason against the New York Giants.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga, who missed eight practices during training camp with an alleged hamstring issue, will start this Friday when the Bengals open their preseason against the New York Giants.

According to a Bengals.com report, Maualuga will be flanked by Vincent Rey, who will start weak-side linebacker, and A.J. Hawk at SAM. Emmanuel Lamur, who was the primary strong-side backer last season, will be the primary backer during nickel situations.

Maualuga, after spending the first two weeks of training camp working on the side with trainer Chip Morton, was cleared to practice on Aug. 10. The veteran linebacker, who wouldn't confirm the nature of his injury, acknowledged that the coaching staff wanted to be cautious.

"Yeah, that was pretty much (it)," he said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It was more (a) precaution(ary) thing. Like I said, I don't make the decisions. I just show up, and if he says 'I don't think you're ready to go,' just say 'Yes, sir' and start rehabbing and just getting my leg stronger. I was rehabbing and conditioning on the other side, and I felt great."

Cincinnati received a lift during practice when Maualuga began popping offensive players, jarring mouth pieces and generating excitement for the defense.

"You hear Rey out there," said Vinny Rey, who went into detail about what he's actually hearing. "The contact. So it's always the lift when you've got that on your side. It's like the big brother on your side. It's always a lift, whether I'm on the field or not, it's a lift seeing him out there, being out there with us."