Morning Stripes: Burfict's business trip

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
8:00
AM ET
Yes, you better believe Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has tried to take a little downtime this week in Hawaii as he takes in his first Pro Bowl. But there's something else about the trip you must know.

As much as this is a vacation, it's also all about business for the second-year undrafted player.

So much so that in between rest and relaxation with his girlfriend and Bengals teammates A.J. Green and Rey Maualuga, one of the guests he invited, Burfict has apparently been trying to soak up as much football knowledge as he can. He's been trying to share some of it, too, it seems.

Between talking X's and O's with players from other teams and discussing ways he can help new Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther tweak the team's defense, he's made this opportunity all about making himself a better player.

But are we surprised? This is the same player who, after relieving an injured teammate early in his rookie season and playing at an elite level, ended up having an even better sophomore campaign that earned him the ticket to Hawaii. Burfict has played his best when he's been put in positions to absorb as much information as possible. For example, even after his strong rookie year, he took extensive notes this past season when veteran James Harrison was added to the mix. Harrison's NFL journey went along a similar path, and it was one that led him to being arguably one of the best linebackers of the modern era.

Much like he'll be doing with Guenther -- the man who was assigned to coaching him and other linebackers these past two seasons -- Burfict played the role of coach with Harrison throughout the year. He walked the veteran through various plays and hammered home certain specifics about play calls and terminologies that Harrison hadn't been exposed to after so many years in Dick LeBeau's system in Pittsburgh.

In Friday's brief Morning Stripes, we look more specifically at Burfict's grand plans in Hawaii and beyond:
  • Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson caught up with Burfict the day after the linebacker was drafted by Jerry Rice in the Pro Bowl's "draft" special. Burfict will be going against Green, who was claimed by Deion Sanders' team. Guenther will ask Burfict to take on an unofficial coaching role when he officially begins leading the defense following previous coordinator Mike Zimmer's departure for the Minnesota head-coaching job.
  • Defensive tackle Domata Peko has had a busy week. After his wife gave birth to another child Wednesday night, Peko spent part of his Thursday unveiling a sandwich at a local eatery that was named in his honor. From Cincinnati Fox television affiliate WXIX, here's the lineman endorsing the "Peko." Local restaurant chain Izzy's, known for its Reuben sandwiches and potato pancakes, now has a corned beef sandwich designed by Peko himself.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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