AFC North: Vincent Rey

CINCINNATI -- On the same day one of his former high school and college teammates was expected to sign a contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals, veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk was in the Queen City visiting coaches and other front-office personnel.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Hawk's visit early Monday.

If Hawk ultimately signs with the Bengals, he'll have a reunion with kicker Mike Nugent. Reports late Sunday indicated Nugent will sign a two-year extension. Natives of suburban Dayton, Ohio, Hawk and Nugent played together some 50 miles north of Cincinnati at Centerville High School before also starring at Ohio State.

Hawk has only called one place home since college. Drafted fifth overall in 2006, the inside linebacker spent the last nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers before he was cut two weeks ago. Since he was released, he could sign Monday if he and the Bengals reached an agreement that quickly.

One of the Bengals' focuses from a personnel standpoint this offseason has involved strengthening their depth chart at linebacker. Injuries ravaged the unit in 2014, forcing the Bengals to thrust a pair of inexperienced linebackers into some of the season's more pivotal games. At Indianapolis in the middle of the season, reserve Vincent Rey led a linebacker group that included rookie Marquis Flowers and former undrafted free agent Jayson DiManche, who was getting some of the first defensive snaps of his career.

It's likely the Bengals will draft a linebacker, in addition to trying to sign one in free agency, like Hawk. They already kept Rey Maualuga from hitting free agency, signing the six-year vet to a new deal last week just days before his previous contract expired.

Although injuries have caused Hawk's career to take a bit of a decline the past season or two, he still fits the Bengals' free-agent profile, and could give them solid depth at a position that lacked it.
CINCINNATI -- Vontaze Burfict has been absent from the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive huddles the last six weeks, but at least one of his teammates can barely tell.

Defensive end Wallace Gilberry said earlier this week that the "Will" linebacker's replacement, Vincent Rey, has started turning into a more diminutive version of Burfict. Rey, according to Gilberry, is letting his inner dog show.


"Vinny's become a little mean," Gilberry said. "I don't know what's going on with him, but he's becoming a little pit bull."

Told what the lineman said about his new attitude, Rey, sporting a pair of thick, black-rimmed glasses, smirked and said, "I think that's a good thing."

It is. It's especially a good thing for a player who off the field looks more like a history teacher than a linebacker. Among the many approachable defenders in the Bengals' locker room, Vincent Rey and the word "mean" don't really seem to go together. This week, though, when the Bengals travel to Cleveland for an important AFC North game against the Browns, they must.

That's mainly because Rey will be the linchpin in a Bengals defense that is facing Johnny Manziel in his first career start. A mobile quarterback noted for his ability to extend plays and to escape the pocket, Manziel presents a unique challenge. While there isn't much film on the rookie -- he's only played 17 snaps this year -- he is coming off a college career that was full of highlight-reel worthy moments.

For that reason, Rey believes the Bengals can't get too worked up if Manziel picks up big gains sporadically throughout the game. The key will be to keep them as inconsistent as possible.

"He is going to make some plays," Rey said. "Heisman Trophy winner, he made a lot of plays in college. But it's on us to keep doing our jobs and to work together as a unit. When we do that, we play well."

Coach Marvin Lewis has been adamant this week in getting his players to realize that the best way to combat the read-option is to maintain their assignments.

Rey has understood that.

"My approach is getting all of us on defense getting lined up right," Rey said. "If we're all lined up right, especially in the front seven, we'll give ourselves a good chance to get plays stopped."

That's where being a pit bull can come in handy. As long as Rey remains firm in his rattling off of play responsibilities and assertively calls out any pre-snap changes, his teammates will pay attention to him.

They'll also keep paying attention if he continues to play as authoritatively as he has. Last week he had 15 tackles, one shy of the career-high 16 he had at Indianapolis earlier this year.

In his first seven games, including the Colts game, when he mostly relieved Burfict after in-game injuries, Rey averaged 5.4 tackles. In the six contests since he started in place of the Pro Bowl linebacker, Rey has averaged 9.8 tackles.

Rey contends that little has changed with respect to his approach since Burfict's latest injury. But he does acknowledge that having a better respect for the sport and being more confident in setting the defense because of his off-field study.

"It's one thing to prepare your body, but I've realized that preparing your mind to go out there and stop these great players in this league is very important," Rey said.

The Bengals hope the pit bull will be ready Sunday for his one of his toughest tests yet.
CINCINNATI -- As a scribe, it pains me to applaud the scene I'm about to describe.

But as someone who appreciates good displays of leadership, it seems appropriate to highlight the following given the direction the Cincinnati Bengals' defense is now forced to turn with news Tuesday that linebacker Vontaze Burfict is done for the season with a knee injury.

[+] EnlargeVontaze Burfict
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY SportsNow that Vontaze Burfict is officially gone for the season, the Bengals' defense will have to pick it up.
Here's the setting: Bengals locker room, linebacker's corner, 10 minutes after Sunday's 42-21 loss to the Steelers.

Characters: A still-in-uniform Vincent Rey and a street-clothes-clad Vontaze Burfict.

For several minutes, Rey chatted with myself and a couple other reporters in front of his locker as we asked him about the Bengals' inability to stop the Steelers in a 25-point fourth quarter that decided the game.

He put a lot of the problems on himself.

Five times in barely a minute, Rey -- who otherwise played well, finishing with a career-high 15 tackles -- said some variation of the words "I'll continue to learn," or "I'll get better" as he tried to explain how Le'Veon Bell was able to rush for 110 yards on seven carries in the final period.

By the third and fourth time Rey said it, a voice behind him started calmly calling his name. "Vinny. Vinny. Vinny. Stop saying that, Vinny."

It was Burfict, the Bengals' injured third-year linebacker. Eventually Rey, a player with two more years of seniority on Burfict, got the message.

"We'll get better as a team," Rey said, drawing a "there you go" from Burfict.

All Burfict wanted was for him to focus on the team, not the individual.

So why am I so opposed to that moment as a writer? Because there are few things as damaging to the reporting process as having a player (or coach, for that matter) dictate what gets said by another. If Rey wanted to put himself on the hook, so be it. It's how he was feeling in that raw, emotional and honest moment.

The reason I can respect that moment, though, is because it showed just how great an influence Burfict has on the Bengals' locker room. It showed exactly why he, a player younger than Rey, can command the respect that he does in the huddle. And it proved why his loss to a season-ending knee injury this week could have a demoralizing effect on Cincinnati's sideline.

Now that he's on injured reserve and will undergo a different kind of rehab than what he was going through the last six weeks, Burfict likely will be seen a little less around Paul Brown Stadium. He won't be there as often during the hours the rest of the team is. What that means for his teammates is less time talking football in person with the smart defender, and less time actually learning from him outside of text-message conversations.

It also means that a crucial mentor, adviser and motivator won't be around as the Bengals enter a crucial final three-game stretch that could impact the team's postseason makeup.

The silver lining to all of this, though, is that Burfict hasn't been on the field for six weeks. The Bengals have been forced get by without him all season. But that has led to disastrous results at times.

With Burfict virtually a non-factor, the Bengals have had trouble getting pressure in certain pass-rush situations, and also have had problems stopping the run. They're tied for 28th in total defense, and rank 27th against the run this season.

Now that Burfict is done for the season, it's on his replacement to live up to his post-game decree.

Rey's time has arrived to play better, keep learning, and maybe lead.
NEW ORLEANS -- Heads were shaking in the Cincinnati Bengals' huddle.

Chatter got a little more intense. Focus, for six straight plays, stepped up slightly.

As far as the 11 men on the Bengals' defensive side of the ball were concerned, the New Orleans Saints' offense, regardless of how close it got to the goal line, could not cross the plane.

"In our heads, we were just saying, 'They're not going to score. We cannot let them score,'" linebacker Vincent Rey said.

[+] EnlargeMark Ingram
AP Photo/Bill HaberThe Bengals' defense provided the spark Sunday on a second-quarter stand deep in their own territory.
They didn't.

You could point to any number of scenarios or plays or players who helped lead the Bengals to a 27-10 victory over the Saints on Sunday, but very few had the type of early, momentum-changing impact as Cincinnati's second-quarter goal-line stand. As the Bengals move through their final six games, it would be in their best interest to sustain the mentality that made Sunday's pivotal, stingy series possible.

Up 7-3 near the end of a 17-play Saints drive that began in the first quarter, the Bengals' battered and beleaguered defense was driven deep. Facing one of its toughest challenges of the season, the unit, for six consecutive plays inside its own 10, had to hunker down against an offense that entered the week as the league's second best.

"We just had to play football," linebacker Rey Maualuga said. "We needed a spark."

The first to ignite the unit was cornerback Adam Jones, who chased receiver Brandin Cooks on an end around and ran him out of bounds to the 4-yard line after a 5-yard gain. Then came defensive tackle Domata Peko, who stood up running back Mark Ingram after a 2-yard loss. Officials weren't pleased with Peko's aggressive fling of Ingram, though, and slapped him with an unnecessary roughness penalty that extended the drive with another first down.

After a subsequent incomplete pass broken up cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and two more stops on Ingram by Peko, the Bengals had a crucial fourth down to defend.

Anchored by Maualuga, Cincinnati was prepared for New Orleans' fourth-and-goal, quick-snap screen pass to fullback Erik Lorig. As soon as Lorig touched the ball, Maualuga wrestled him down for a 1-yard loss.

"I don't know if it was just one person that did their job or what," Maualuga said. "We came to play. We showed up. That play gave a spark to our offense. It gave a spark to our whole team."

That's why the defense that came into the game ranked 30th has to continue thinking of itself as the team's trigger. The mentality the Bengals had on those vital goal-line snaps must be replicated everywhere else on the field and throughout the rest of the season.

They showed that the more aggressive and staunch the defense is, the more aggressive and prolific the offense can be, too.

"That gave us the opportunity to say, 'Hey, we're all in this thing today,'" veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said of the goal-line stand. "That's kind of the exact opposite of what we felt last week, where, as a team, we just didn't do anything to help each other on either side of the ball. Starting off that way really got us off on the right foot."

Outplayed in every area, the Bengals lost to the Browns 24-3 on Nov. 6.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 27-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:

Looking for the "next man up": One of the more common phrases you'll hear from players on a Marvin Lewis-coached team is "next man up." Whenever the Bengals have injuries, they make it their mission to make sure whoever comes in for downed starters keeps the team playing at the exact level it was before. But it's easy to assume that as more reserves hit the field, drop-offs will come. Veteran Terence Newman was one of many Bengals who rejected that assumption Sunday. "When someone goes out, somebody has to step up," he said. "It's an opportunity for them to show what they can do and display their talents. That's the way you have to look at it as a guy who goes in the football game. It's a chance to show what you can do. You've just got to shine in that moment." In addition to the several other injuries the Bengals had entering the game, they lost stars Vontaze Burfict and Leon Hall in the game.

"We are who we are": Lewis almost channeled his inner Dennis Green during his postgame news conference. But instead of saying the Colts were who he thought they were, Lewis said: "We are who we are. We got what we got and we got to get together, and we've got to figure out a way to continue to right it and go back and be fundamentally sound and become an attacking football again and get on it and go. This one's over. We've got to put it behind us."

Burfict teaches: Minutes after the shutout, Burfict was in the middle of a football conversation with backup linebacker Vincent Rey. The two, in postgame dress clothes, chatted in neighboring lockers. It appeared Burfict was doing what he often does: teaching. Once Burfict left the game, Rey received the helmet with the team's microphone, and he was the defender charged with making play calls. When healthy, Burfict is the team's regular playcaller.
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green was carted off of the practice fields barely 10 minutes into the start of Wednesday's workouts.

The team hopes to soon see good news from tests on his right big toe that was re-injured at the start of the day's practice. It's an injury that goes back to the season opener at Baltimore, when he suffered an injury that he said was similar to turf toe. reported Wednesday that the team believes he might have some type of ligament irritation close to his big toe.

In addition to Green's departure, the Bengals also were without Marvin Jones again. The third-year receiver didn't participate in receiving drills off to the side, as he had in the few weeks leading up to his return from a foot injury that he suffered in training camp. It was that injury, a broken foot, that sidelined him into late September. Two weeks ago he returned to practice from that ailment, but during the second practice, he tweaked an ankle.

That was last Monday. He hasn't practiced since then.

While Green and Jones didn't practice, linebacker Vontaze Burfict and offensive guard Kevin Zeitler did. The pair had been out since the Week 2 game against the Atlanta Falcons, when they both suffered injuries. Burfict was listed in full participation after returning to practice following concussion issues. Zeitler had limited work as he starts easing back from a calf injury.

Here's the complete injury report:

LB Sean Porter (knee -- placed on injured reserve Tuesday)

DT Brandon Thompson (knee)
WR Marvin Jones (ankle)
OL Mike Pollak (knee)
LB Vincent Rey (calf)

WR A.J. Green (great toe)
S George Iloka (abdomen)
LB Rey Maualuga (shoulder)
OG Kevin Zeitler (calf)

LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion)
CINCINNATI -- Hours before Sunday's game, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict let Vincent Rey in on his secret to success: get to the ball on the first play.

"It'll settle you down," Rey said, relaying the injured Pro Bowler's message to him.


With Burfict spending the afternoon under concussion protocol after suffering his second head injury in as many games the previous Sunday against Atlanta, the Bengals were forced to send Rey out to replace him.

He filled in quite nicely.

Rey finished with four tackles, including one on the first play of the game from scrimmage. As the Titans tried to execute a first-down run, Rey flowed right into the spot where running back Shonn Greene was trying to go and stopped him for no gain.

"I just happened to be there," Rey said. "The running back kind of fell, and I got on him. That did settle me down."

While Rey isn't as vociferous on the field as Burfict and isn't as intimidating as the starting weakside linebacker, he still packs a more-than-adequate punch as a backup. The former undrafted player out of Duke began making a name for himself in Bengals stripes on special teams, where he thrived through his first three seasons. Then last season, in Year 4, he earned the respect of Bengals fans after starting three straight games in the middle of the season, replacing middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.

Rey had 30 tackles, three sacks and an interception in those three games.

As one of the Bengals' smartest defenders, Rey is given the most opportunities to play all three linebacker positions. He knows each of the spots and has performed well in those positions throughout his career. He is viewed as a sort of a utility player at the position. When one starter goes down, regardless of what spot he plays, in comes Rey. And if he's on the field when Burfict and Emmanuel Lamur aren't, then Rey makes the calls in the huddle and presnap adjustments at the line.

Rey was credited with one of the four positive grades Pro Football Focus gave Bengals defenders after Sunday's 33-7 win over Tennessee. He had a plus-1.2 overall grade and a plus-1.3 grade against the run, according to PFF. The website also rewarded him with two quarterback hurries on the 49 snaps he played.

While it's clear Rey played well individually, he was quick to credit his teammates for performing well in Burfict's absence.

"When a guy like Vontaze is out, we all have to pick up the slack for him, not just one guy," Rey said. "We all raise our game."

Despite how well Rey played Sunday, Cincinnati hopes its defense will be at full capacity in 12 days when it travels to New England for a Sunday night game that comes after this week's bye. There is an expectation that the bye will give Burfict additional time to work through the symptoms of the concussion and eventually clear the protocol ahead of arguably the biggest game of the first half of the Bengals' season.

Andy Dalton talks first touchdown catch

September, 21, 2014
CINCINNATI -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 33-7 win over the Tennessee Titans:

Dalton's TD catch his first: When reporters were allowed in the Bengals' locker room after Sunday's win, they flocked to receiver Mohamed Sanu's locker. The third-year wideout, who tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Andy Dalton early in the game, occupies the locker next to Dalton's. As Sanu offered his insights on the play, I chatted with Dalton, who told me it was the first touchdown catch he's had at any stage of his football-playing career. He added that he wasn't sure what happened with cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who had a chance to blow out the catch or intercept it for an easy pick-six.

Iloka's half-pick lobby: There is no such thing as a half-interception in football, but safety George Iloka wouldn't mind creating one. He joked with me after the game that he's going to lobby someone for crediting him with half an interception after contributing to Robert Geathers' second-quarter pick. On the play, Titans quarterback Jake Locker was trying to complete a pass to Delanie Walker when Iloka delivered a hard hit on Walker as soon as he touched the ball and turned around. The hit was so hard, the ball violently bounced several yards into the air, where Geathers grabbed it.

Shutout bid denied: The Bengals came within six minutes of their first shutout in seven seasons and their first home shutout in 33 years. The shutout bid was denied when Shonn Greene scored on a drive aided by Bengals penalties. Defensive end Wallace Gilberry said he and his teammates wanted the shutout. "We tried to pull it off, but it is what it is," he said. "At the same time, those guys are being paid, too. That's not a bad team we just played. They're going to beat a lot of people this year."

Staying humble: With the Week 5 game at New England on the horizon after next week's bye, coach Marvin Lewis isn't worried about keeping his team humble after the 3-0 start. Here's what linebacker Vincent Rey said when I asked him about that: "We're hunting excellence. We really want to be perfect in everything we want to do."
CINCINNATI -- As the Cincinnati Bengals get going with Day 4 of training camp Sunday, here are three items we're going to be watching:

Full pads come on. For the first time this training camp, the Bengals will put on shoulder pads and padded practice pants as they step up the contact. It's a new phase of the camp and should step up the energy, intensity and excitement level on the practice fields. Rookies and veterans alike look forward to this day because they can finally hit again. As linebacker Vincent Rey said, "Football is movement and contact. Let's get some contact in."

Oklahoma Drill Day. Few contact-focused exercises are as entertaining in training camp as the Oklahoma drill. In it, a defender tries to beat a blocker and wrap up a ball carrier who is handed the ball from the quarterback. Some players like it, some players hate it. There's a similar split among coaches, too, with all hoping they come out of such drills healthy. It'll be interesting to see which players win which matchups.

Weather a factor? Well, the weathermen got it wrong Saturday. Reports had indicated storms might be a factor during the afternoon. Instead, they rolled through with a vengeance after nightfall. The forecast for Sunday afternoon is much less favorable, according to the National Weather Service. Hail, tornadoes and severe winds could roll through this part of the Ohio River Valley around midday. The threat of severe weather diminishes as the afternoon goes on, but at the very least, the Bengals could get wet ball work as they practice on a potentially wet field. It's worth watching the weather all afternoon because the Bengals don't have an indoor practice facility and would be forced to wait until any severe threats pass. Practice is slated to begin at 3 p.m. ET.
CINCINNATI -- Rey Maualuga had just gotten up from a 16-minute, 28-second interview with a trio of reporters when fellow Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Brandon Joiner approached with a question.

The 27-year-old Maualuga knew exactly what his younger teammate needed help with. He stopped his stride across the mostly empty locker room, bent his body into a defensive stance and started pointing and speaking linebacker jargon with Joiner who nodded eagerly along.

[+] EnlargeVontaze Burfict
AP Photo/Lenny IgnelziBengals linebacker Rey Maualuga is attempting to rebound after seeing his production slip in 2013.
It was the very type of teaching lesson Maualuga had detailed moments before when he gabbed with the reporters. Ahead of what could very well be his final training camp with the Bengals, the veteran defender made it clear that while he's going to fight hard for a spot on the 53-man roster, he's still going to give advice to any of the players he's competing against who want to listen.

"I'm just out there to teach," Maualuga said. "So I'm doing whatever I can do to help the younger guys know how to line up and help them out with their playbook. Because eventually, we've got 12 linebackers and we're not going to keep all 12. If I can help someone be the best player in this short amount of time to do their job, then I can feel good about that."

Among the hottest offseason Bengals topics this spring and summer have been questions revolving around Maualuga's status as the team's starting middle linebacker. Several of the weekend mailbags that appeared on's Bengals blog the past few months were filled with fan inquiries about Maualuga, and whether he could be replaced by Vincent Rey, a veteran backup who played well in relief of Maualuga when he was injured three games last year.

Rey's 30 tackles, three sacks and one interception in those three games caught the fans' attention. Calls for him to take over the first-string "Mike" linebacker duties began and haven't ceased since, even as Rey starts camp as one of the top backups at all three linebacker positions. Those calls came at the same time Maualuga's production was waning. He finished with 47 fewer tackles in 2013 than he had in 2012, and miscues like his ill-timed personal foul penalty in the opener at Chicago last year combined to put him on the fans' bad side. That penalty ended any hope the Bengals had at putting together a final-minute comeback drive that might have won the game.

As for Rey, the backup said he's not concerned so much with trying to be the starter at any of the spots he plays. He just wants to get on the field, whether that's from off the bench or as a starter in specific situations like third-down or goal-line defense, much like he was last year.

"The honest truth is that for me it's more about getting on the field," Rey said. "And the thing is, you never know when you'll get on the field. That's the tougher position for me. I embrace it. I never know. I may be on the field at this position, or that position. I'm going to be ready. Whenever my name's called, I'm going to be ready."

That was Maualuga's approach when he arrived as a second-round draft pick from Southern Cal in 2009. He just wanted to play and learn from the players above him.

At the time, that meant hanging on to former "Sam" linebacker Rashad Jeanty's every word. It meant listening to all of former "Mike" linebacker Dhani Jones' pearls of wisdom, like the following that remain at the forefront of his mind.

"Coach Zim [former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer] asked Dhani, 'Why haven't you missed a practice since you've been here?'" Maualuga recounted. "He said, 'I'm afraid to lose my job.'"

After four seasons with the Bengals and six more in the NFL, Jones did in fact lose his job -- to Maualuga. When Maualuga opened the 2011 season at middle linebacker, he did so in place of the elder linebacker who wasn't re-signed after the 2010 season and soon after retired.

Reminded of how he became the Bengals' "Mike" linebacker, Maualuga paused and nervously grinned as the irony settled in.

"It's only due time until someone comes and takes my spot," he said. "I'm going to put up a fight, though."

He knows that fight might not be enough. Although there is much with respect to his position battle that he can control, the ultimate decision rests in the coaches' hands.

"My family's here. I want to be here," Maualuga said. "But there's a lot of great linebackers on this roster. We can't keep everybody.

"If I don't make it, I still know that I gave it my all and hopefully another team will be out there to pick me up."
As they read this, members of the Cincinnati Bengals' front office are probably furiously knocking away at whatever item made of wood happens to be nearby.

In an NFL offseason that's been filled with arrest stories and Johnny Manziel's Monday morning twitpic updates, the Bengals have mostly flown under the radar, enjoying a comparatively quiet few months away from the field. After years of being the posterchildren for in- and out-of-season arrests and disciplinary issues, they ought to be commended for their relative good behavior in recent months.

Instead of a proliferation of mugshots and players in police blotters this summer, the Bengals have been taking baby pictures and wedding photos. It's certainly a welcomed departure from what previously had been the norm along the Ohio Riverfront.

I used the word "relative" regarding the Bengals' good behavior because there is, of course, that Sam Montgomery thing and that Orson Charles thing. Both Bengals are in the middle of pending legal situations after respective interstate traffic stops. Montgomery was pulled over and subsequently arrested two weeks ago for driving 89 mph in a 55-mph zone. South Carolina state law, where he was stopped, stipulates motorists traveling 25 mph or more over the speed limit are required to be jailed. Charles was arrested in April after allegedly brandishing a firearm at a motorist during a road-rage incident on Interstate 75 in Kentucky.

Montgomery's arrest primarily received attention after the state trooper's dashcam video was made public last week. During the arrest, the since suspended officer informed Montgomery he was under arrest right after inquiring if he played in the NFL. The officer also threatened to use a taser on Montgomery while barking a series of confusing orders as he tried to get the much larger Montgomery to get his hands behind his back for the handcuffs. Montgomery appeared to be cooperative throughout the video of the arrest, which began with him pulling over and ended some minutes after he and the officer were riding to the jail.

Since a firearm was involved in Charles' case, that incident rightfully gained traction both around Cincinnati and Kentucky (where the arrest happened), as well as nationally. After the legal process began, though, the entire ordeal mostly faded away. It wasn't a topic of conversation during minicamp and organized team activities, which Charles attended. That doesn't mean it has completely ended, though. Charles still has several steps ahead of him. Just last Thursday, he formally was arraigned in Madison County (Kentucky) Circuit Court on charges of brandishing a firearm in public.

What helps deflect attention from the arrests is both players easily could be cut based on merit alone when training camp opens later this month. If that happens, their issues no longer would concern the franchise.

Aside from those incidents, the Bengals have stayed out of the glare of negative spotlight. A few starters have made minor headlines for more positive reasons.

The Bengals have spent their offseason focusing on expanding their families and preparing to defend their division crown. (Wait, what's that sound you hear? Ah, it's the rapid hollow thumping of wooden desks at Paul Brown Stadium. It's a welcomed sound in Cincinnati, I assure you.)

This time last summer the Bengals had just learned cornerback Adam Jones was involved in a bar fight downtown. He was slapped with an assault charge and ordered to trial that October. Given his rather turbulent past, it was easy to immediately view the case as yet another instance of "Pacman" outshining his better half, Adam. When video of the event later surfaced and a judge ruled on the matter, Jones was declared innocent of wrongdoing, although the judge felt Jones and the woman who instigated the incident should have handled themselves better.

Fast forward to this past weekend and Jones turned heads in an all-white tuxedo for a different reason. He married his longtime girlfriend, joining a long list of Bengals to get hitched this summer. Running back Cedric Peerman and receiver Marvin Jones were among those who also got married. Linebacker Vincent Rey got engaged early in the offseason. Quarterback Andy Dalton and his wife had their first child last week.

Despite the situations with Montgomery and Charles, the Bengals seem to have turned a corner off the field. As is the case with every other team, there's still work to be done on that front, though, and that's why Bengals executives are going to keep knocking on wood.
Linebacker Vincent Rey will get $1 million guaranteed in 2014, the first year of a two-year deal he agreed to with the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.


If he ends up making the full amount of his contract, he will end up receiving a nice annual bump in pay from what he had previously been making as an undrafted backup and special teams star. After receiving a career-high $630,000 in 2013, Rey will earn $1 million in base salary in 2014 and $2 million in base salary in 2015. With bonuses factored in, he holds an overall cap value of $2.1 million in each of the two seasons.

Rey was re-signed about a week and a half after receiving a low-round tender from the Bengals. He was one of three Bengals' restricted free agents to receive the tender that equaled $1.43 million. Receivers Andrew Hawkins and Dane Sanzenbacher also received the tenders. Hawkins currently holds a four-year, $13.6 million offer sheet from the Cleveland Browns that the Bengals have until 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday to match. If they don't match it, Hawkins will leave for Cleveland, and the Bengals will be left empty-handed. Because each of the low-round tenders were undrafted free agents, the Bengals won't receive draft compensation if any of them signs with another team.

While he still was mostly a backup in 2013, Rey ended up having the best season of his career.

He set career-highs in tackles (47), sacks (4) and interceptions (2). Against the Ravens in Week 10, he became the only player in Bengals history to record three sacks and an interception in the same game. It is expected that he might start training camp behind Vontaze Burfict at the "Will" outside linebacker position, but he also could play at the middle, or "Mike," position after adequately relieving Rey Maualuga for three games there last season.

Here's a look at the breakdown of Rey's new Bengals contract (specifics come from ESPN's Stats & Information):

Cap value: $2,100,000
Cash value: $2,100,000
Signing bonus: $0
Roster bonus: $1,000,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Base salary: $1,000,000
Guaranteed money: $1,000,000

Cap value: $2,100,000
Cash value: $2,100,000
Signing bonus: $0
Roster bonus: $0
Workout bonus: $100,000
Base salary: $2,000,000

Free-agency review: Bengals

March, 18, 2014
Most significant signing: To this point, Cincinnati's most significant free-agent signing has been a re-signing. By inking restricted free-agent linebacker Vincent Rey to a two-year deal, the Bengals maintained their depth at outside linebacker and kept a vital special-teams piece. The Bengals aren't known to make major free-agency splashes with players from the outside, so it was even more significant that they retained a well-regarded player who not only provides depth but also can start regularly.

Most significant loss: Anthony Collins' decision to sign with Tampa Bay wasn't a big surprise, but it was the biggest loss the Bengals have had so far this free-agency period. Defensive end Michael Johnson's departure was long expected because of the higher price tag he was likely to command. The team still felt it had a chance late with Collins, even an outside chance. The cuts of linebacker James Harrison and center Kyle Cook were big moves, too, but ones the Bengals should more easily move on from.

Biggest surprise: Cincinnati's biggest free-agency surprise actually came two weeks ago, when the Bengals extended low-round tenders to restricted free agents Andrew Hawkins, Dane Sanzenbacher and Rey. The decision to give a low-round tender to Hawkins was perhaps the most curious decision, as it gave the rest of the league free reign to bid as high as they wanted on the player who was the Bengals' third-leading receiver in 2012 (an injury limited him to just half the season in 2013). Cleveland jumped at the chance to give Hawkins an offer that is expected to go unmatched. Since he was an undrafted player, the Bengals won't receive any draft-pick compensation from Cleveland if they fail to match its offer. Lesson learned: The Bengals should have given Hawkins a second-round tender in order to keep him from being poached so easily.

What's next? Although the Bengals lost a couple of big pieces in Johnson and Collins -- not to mention their starting center and "Sam" linebacker -- they will return in the fall with a roster that has very few glaring holes. The good news is that their biggest contributors are already in place, and other backups, like recently re-signed guard/center Mike Pollak, could end up taking over starting jobs. Still, expect the Bengals to keep trying to build their defensive-line and offensive-line depth via free agency and the draft. Linebackers also could be draft targets, as could any number of defensive backs.
CINCINNATI -- In need of as much help at linebacker as they can get, the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday announced they re-signed fourth-year linebacker Vincent Rey. He becomes the third Bengals free agent that has re-signed, according to the team.


Along with two other restricted free agents, Rey earned a low-round tender from the Bengals last week. That meant he was slotted to make $1.4 million in 2013 unless he signed an offer sheet of greater value from another team. If the other team made an offer, the Bengals would have five days after receiving the offer to match it. None of that appears to have happened with Rey.

He reportedly agreed to a two-year deal.

Rey has been with the Bengals since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2010. The Duke product spent his first three seasons primarily playing special teams, but saw his overall role increase dramatically last season as he started on defense, too.

When starting "Mike" linebacker Rey Maualuga went down with a knee injury in the middle of last season, Rey replaced him, starting in three contests. Even when Maualuga returned, he shared more time at linebacker with him than he had at points before the injury.

Rey's 47 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions in 2013 were career highs. Three of those sacks and one of the interceptions came in the Week 10 overtime loss at Baltimore. He's the only player in franchise history to have that many sacks and an interception in a single game.

In addition to stepping up defensively, he also continued contributing on special teams, playing a key role on the various kick and punt coverage and return teams.

"Vinny is a tough guy and a pleasure to coach, and it's great to have him back in the fold," coach Marvin Lewis said in a news release. "He really helped us in winning the division title last year."

Rey joins receiver/return specialist Brandon Tate and offensive guard/center Mike Pollak in re-signing with the Bengals this offseason. Defensive back Taylor Mays also has reportedly signed, but the Bengals have not yet announced that news. Mays was reported to have signed Wednesday.

The news of Rey's re-signing also comes hours after the team announced that defensive end Dontay Moch, a 2011 third-round Bengals draft pick, was coming back to Cincinnati. After playing four games last season for the Cardinals, Moch cleared waivers late Friday afternoon.

Cincinnati's other two restricted free agents, receivers Andrew Hawkins and Dane Sanzenbacher, also were extended low-round tenders last week, but neither has signed elsewhere or with the Bengals yet. Hawkins has signed an offer sheet with the Cleveland Browns, but Cincinnati has until Tuesday to match it. The Bengals still have not made a decision about what they will do, although has reported that they likely won't match the four-year, $13.6 million offer.