Another week, another Vontaze Burfict storyline.
After the Pro Bowl linebacker was suspended for the first three games of this season, Burfict managed to make it through two games before his latest ‘questionable’ play took place.
On Sunday, Burfict appeared to take a low shot at Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett during the Bengals loss in New England. It came on a pass play in which the ball was going away from Bennett, but it was thrown in his vicinity, with Burfict in coverage, so Burfict may have thought the ball was coming his way if he didn’t see it when it was thrown.
It was a a 3rd-and-2 play with 11:22 remaining in the fourth quarter., and the good news is, Bennett did not get injured on the play.
Vontaze Burfict going low on Bennett. Seemed unnecessary but what do I know. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/4DWnqa76TD— Will D. (@WAD1980) October 16, 2016
The hit did not result in a penalty flag for Burfict. It was part of a very chippy second half that even resulted in Rob Gronkowski drawing a penalty for taunting.
Given Burfict’s history, as well as the continued emphasis on player safety in the NFL, we should expect to see him receive some sort of punishment this week, according to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.
NFL reviewing Vontze Burfict low hit on Martellus Bennett, as is customary. A player's history can factor in to potential discipline.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 17, 2016
However, it does not appear a suspension is in play, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport.
#Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict’s hit on #Patriots’ Martellus Bennett should follow standard discipline process. Expect big fine, not suspension— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 17, 2016
ESPN reporter Dan Graziano tweeted on Monday that Bennett said Burfict apologized to him for the hit and said that it wasn’t intentional, so at least Tez has already addressed it.
It’s getting harder and harder for even the biggest Burfict sympathizers to defend him. These kinds of hits are unnecessary risks to players’ safety, and Burfict does not need them to be the kind of superstar player we’ve all seen he can be.
Hopefully, Burfict will receive a fine, at most, for this and move on. The last thing the Bengals need amid a 2-4 start is another suspension to one of their best players.
We’ll keep you posted once more details emerge.