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Sun shines on Bengaldom

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 17, 2010 – 10:21 pm

Maualuga

All must be right in Bengaldom.

Andre Smith is back on the field.

Rey Maualuga is going to be on the field for the Sept. 12 opener in Foxboro.

And Mike Zimmer is fuming.

Smith and Maualuga, the Bengals’ first two picks in the 2009 draft, are big pieces in the Bengals puzzle of the future. Smith, the right tackle of that future plagued by foot and conditioning problems, ended his seventh-month exile from the field Tuesday. Maualuga, who started 15 games at SAM backer last season as a rookie, is going to start against the Patriots Opening Day after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced he faced only a fine for his DUI arrest in January.

The original decision was a one-game suspension and not the usual fine for a first-time offender, apparently because Maualuga hit some parked cars, making the circumstances more serious. Maualuga figures the suspension hung over him for a couple of months, but he was pleased with the appeals process.

He said he met with Goodell and is just thankful “I can move on, think about football, and play against New England with my teammates.”

It figures to be at SAM backer and not in the middle, even though he played about 20 of his 28 snaps at middle linebacker during Sunday’s win over Denver. Zimmer, the Bengals defensive coordinator, relies heavily on Dhani Jones’ experience and grasp of the calls, and he said Maualuga was “rusty” there after he played in all kinds of situations that ranged from base to third down. The idea, at the moment, doesn’t seem to be to replace Jones, but to see if Maualuga can be effective at the MIKE backer in certain packages.

“We have to see more of what he can do there.  He was just getting back,” Zimmer said.

Maualuga, named the best linebacker in the country when he roamed the middle for USC two years ago, missed the opener in Canton because of a tweaked hamstring.

“It was like going back home,” Maualuga said of the middle. “I looked up and it was kind of weird. I’m thinking, ‘Hey, there’s a guy on both sides of me.’ But I’ve got a long way to go. I’m trying to get better a day at a time.”

Zimmer, by the way, is furious with his defense’s performance in the first two games.  And while they would feel better if they were playing better, remember what linebacker Brandon Johnson said a few weeks ago:

“He’s better at fixing things.”

Well, Zimmer says he’s got a lot to fix after the Broncos threw for 257 yards.

“We’re not a very good defense right now,” Zimmer said. “Not good. Overrated. The things we do, we’re not paying attention. Believe me, there will be things emphasized.

Which may be a good sign in the world according to Zimmer.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 4 Comments »


4 Responses to “Sun shines on Bengaldom”

  1. By 2ndboot on Aug 18, 2010 | Reply

    When the DC tells guys they’re over rated then is would seem to me that it means, “Hey, get your heads outta your keesters and on the football field OR ELSE!”
    I can’t honestly say I would want to have Mike Zimmer mad at me playing football… He sounds like he might be the way my own dad was when he was mad at me. (which was a considerable amount of time in my youth)
    The Bengals are lucky to have Zimmer there to bring some heads back down to earth and back to being a darned tough defense.. Now let’s hope they respond the way they are paid to respond.

  2. By 34inXXIII on Aug 18, 2010 | Reply

    I know it’s shining like a spotlight on me out here. As a rare Bengals fan in this area, I’ve received more and more attention going back almost one year now. This offseason – particularly the last month – has found me on the receiving end of numerous comments and questions as the local authority on all things Bengal. Those that know me both personally and through the message board know that I’m more than willing to share my opinions on this particular topic. It’s become a lot easier of late because people throughout the organization simply seem to be “getting it”.

    Mike Zimmer clearly gets it. Laurels are not to be rested upon. They are to be improved upon. Sure the results of the preseason games mean very little, but the effort therein means everything. While the defense has been substandard thus far, it is largely because of Zim that it is cause for little concern with the regular season rapidly approaching.

    Rey Maualuga appears to be getting it. By all accounts – articles written on this site and elsewhere, fan interactions and his own comments via Twitter – Rey has learned a significant lesson where his career and, more importantly, his life is concerned. He need look no further back than the previous 2nd round linebacker selected by the Bengals should he need any reinforcement regarding how quickly and tragically such tremendous potential could be lost. Time will tell, but he seems to be headed down the proper path.

    Andre Smith is hopefully starting to get it. The most promising thing I’ve read about last year’s first rounder was all the work he’s been putting in on his conditioning with Chip Morton. The fact that he’s back on the field seems to tell me he’s been making a sincere effort. We can only hope he begins to understand the dedication he needs to not only improve himself individually, but what he could potentially bring to a team quite possibly on the precipice of something great.

  3. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 18, 2010 | Reply

    RC: Crossing the fingers on Smith. It seems like the effort is there. Now the question if the foot can hold up.

  4. By phlockar on Aug 19, 2010 | Reply

    My perception of Smith is he goes all out during the season, but what are his agendas in the offseason? Does he not do anything to stay in shape? I understand its the offseason and guys get a break from the grind, but in his case he has too much to prove to come in camp overweight and out of shape.

    Hob: What are your thoughts on this? You are much closer to these players we blog about and have a much better idea on their personalities. Give us some insight….

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