What’s good for Ray should be good for Rey.
13-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis reportedly dropped 25 pounds in the offseason, going from 260 to 235.
The Bengals have decided to have Rey Maualuga – listed on the roster at 265 lbs. – follow Lewis’s lead.
“They want me to be down to 250 by the bye week,” said Maualuga. “I’m 254 so in two weeks that will be no problem. My reporting weight was 260 and they feel like losing 10 pounds will be a better number to play at. Hey, if they want me to be 250, I’ll be 250. If they want me to be 245, I’ll be 245.”
The weight loss goal is not a knock on Maualuga’s fitness level – it’s a reaction to the current offensive trends in the NFL.
“What I’ve told Rey is that the NFL is a different game now,” said linebackers coach Paul Guenther. “It’s more spaced-out and it’s more of a passing game. There aren’t many teams that are going to come and just pound the ball at you where you have to be a 260 pound linebacker.”
“Coach Guenther told me that the game of football has changed and that there are no big linebackers,” said Maualuga. “Most teams don’t come out in regular personnel and run the ball a lot – it’s all about opening things up and throwing the ball these days. Getting lighter will boost my stamina and allow me to be out there every single play. That’s what we’ve been trying to do the past two weeks and it’s been working. I’m obviously losing weight and I’m seeing improvement. I’m just trying to be coachable and do what I’m asked to do.”
At the age of 37, Ray Lewis slimmed down in order to be quicker and the 25-year-old Bengal hopes for the same result.
“You can see the difference from how (Lewis) looked last year to how he looks this year,” Maualuga told me. “Hopefully it will have a positive impact on how quickly I play and how fast that I run.”
“He feels the difference and I went back and showed him some clips from when he was a rookie and you can see the difference in his foot speed and some of the things that he was doing,” said Guenther. “I think that Rey knows exactly what to do. I think when he gets fatigued, that’s when he misses tackles. He knows what to do and he wants to do it as well as anybody on our team.”
Maualuga missed nearly all of the preseason after suffering a knee injury in the exhibition opener and was the target of media and fan criticism when he did not perform up to his capabilities in the first few weeks of the regular season.
“I really believe that Rey is the most scrutinized player on the Bengals and he knows that he has to play good for us,” said Guenther. “I think that each week he has been getting better. He only had four snaps in the preseason and he’s coming off of ankle surgery and I think that he has been getting better each and every week.”
“I got hurt, but that’s no excuse for how I came back,” said Maualuga. “This is my fourth year in the league and I should be able to play how I’m supposed to play.”
Maualuga has no issue with the scrutiny that he has received from Bengals fans.
“I love the fans,” Rey told me. “If you play good they support you. If you lose, you hope that they will still support you. They want to see improvement. They want to see the linebacker that the Bengals drafted. I’m coming to work every day giving it everything that I’ve got.”
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