If there were any questions as to whether the Bengals enjoy Vontaze Burfict being a member of the team, well, there shouldn’t be. Head coach Marvin Lewis and owner Mike Brown have both voiced their support of Burfict repeatedly, and he’s on the team for a reason: like it or not, he’s a great football player.
Upon his return in Week 4 from a three game suspension due to repeated violations of NFL safety rules, the energy inside Paul Brown Stadium was markedly different than it was just one week prior in the home opener. From the fans, to the players, to the coaches, everyone was excited to have Burfict and his playmaking ability back on the field.
Burfict played a heavy hand in ending the Bengals’ 2015 season in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. After a remarkable game by the linebacker, it was hard not to be disappointed by his actions in the final minute of the game. A helmet-to-helmet hit by the linebacker on Antonio Brown triggered a series of events that would gift the Steelers 30 penalty yards and the ability to kick a game-winning field goal.
But the Bengals players don’t have any issue with their teammate and in fact, they hope he continues playing with the same ferocity that he’s played with since high school. To further that point, many of the defensive players spoke to Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report to share their thoughts on Cincinnati’s enigmatic linebacker.
"He better, he better," Dre Kirkpatrick said in regards to Burfict continuing to play aggressively. "That's what we expect. We don't expect him to change anything."
Karlos Dansby wasn’t a member of the 2015 Bengals squad, but he already understands why Burfict’s teammates love him.
"It gets contagious. Everybody loves that kind of player. You want that kind of player on your team."
George Iloka took it a step further.
"You can be his buddy off the field, but on the field?" safety George Iloka says. "If you have a different jersey, it's, 'F--k you.'
"It's a 'f--k me, f--k you' kind of attitude. You need that, because that's what it's all about. S--t, I always say, 'I'm happy he's on our team.' I wouldn't want to be going up against that every week. I'm glad he's on my side."
Also new to the team is linebackers coach Jim Haslett. He wasn’t involved in last season’s playoff disaster or any of Burfict’s past flag and fine-inducing plays, but he doesn’t want Burfict to change either.
"You don't want him to be passive," Haslett says. "It's hard to play in this game as a safety and a linebacker now because of the fines. You don't want to go low because you don't want to hurt anybody, and you don't want to go high because you don't want to get a penalty. All those things factor into your mind.”
So far, Burfict has played two games this season and hasn’t been flagged — or fined — yet.
Be sure to read the full story with many more interviews on Burfict’s childhood, college years and current life as a Bengals linebacker on Bleacher Report.