Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is excited about the play he's seen thus far from his linebacking corps. Led by second year MLB Rey Maualuga, the group is proving to be the strength of the defense so far in camp.
"We brought in some smart linebackers. Thomas Howard is very athletic and he's doing a really good job. Manny Lawson is a great kid who wants to learn everything. He has size and smarts. Maualuga has done a good job in the middle. With Brandon Johnson back and some of these guys, we're a little stronger at that position than we were." (h/t Geoff Hobson)
What's noticeably stronger is the pass coverage skills. Having Maualuga back in his natural location in the middle has shored up what was a spotty unit against the pass last season. Already, this crew is making life very tough on Bengal quarterbacks. Zimmer hopes they can take that to Detroit on Friday when they face Matthew Stafford and the Lions.
Zimmer says he's simplified things so far so his players can play more "loose." He's emphasized the "basics" so far in camp and will be watching closely on Friday for sharp tackling.
The Bengals are off tomorrow, traveling to Detroit in preparation for Friday's exhibition opener. The game can be seen on WKRC-TV in Cincinnati at 7:30. The NFL Network will re-air the game at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
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