The Bengals are entering their third straight game without the services of Vontaze Burfict, who is close to returning from his three-game suspension.
In his absence, Vincent Rey has given the Bengals great production at weakside linebacker. Through two games, Rey has racked up 15 total tackles, including several big stops during Sunday's narrow loss in Pittsburgh. Rey has also been very good in coverage when matched up with speedy running backs like DeAngelo Williams, or quality tight ends like Jesse James.
Linebacker: Vincent Rey, Cincinnati Bengals, 91.6
In the slippery conditions caused by the rain, Vincent Rey was a force against the Steelers, attacking the run well and recording five defensive stops. He also surrendered just one reception for 7 yards in coverage.
It's good to see the special teams ace finally getting more recognition for how much of an impact he can make on defense. He's been playing a lot there over the past three years with Burfict missing time due to injuries and now suspension. However, Rey is playing some of the best football of his career right now, registering as PFF's second-highest graded linebacker through two weeks.
While having Burfict this past week would have been nice, the way Rey played, it may not have made a big difference in the outcome. That's how good Rey is playing thus far, and while it's not realistic to think he'll be one of the five best linebackers in the NFL this year, his production thus far is really helping the defense offset the absence of Burfict.
Now, Rey will get a tough test against a Broncos offense geared more toward the run. They currently ranked fourth overall in rushing offense, not to mention C.J. Anderson is a tough back to keep track of. He's been a threat on the ground with 166 yards on just 40 carries to go with seven catches for 66 yards through the air.
Keeping Anderson contained will be largely determined by how well Rey plays Sunday. If he plays like has the past two weeks, the Bengals should be in good shape in that regard.