How will Bengals defense look without Burfict?

Vontaze Burfict’s five-game suspension for yet another violation of the NFL’s player safety rules comes with both troubling and calming notions for a team who has been through this before.

Assuming the suspension is not overturned when Burfict has his appeal hearing Tuesday, it will be the third year in a row the Bengals will open the season without him. So it’s not as though head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther are scrambling to put together a Plan B.

›› 6 things to know about Bengals loss to Redskins

Vinny Rey, who like Burfict entered the league as an undrafted free agent, is in his seventh season with the Bengals. He’s appeared in 98 games, which is the ninth most on the team, and nine of his 37 starts have come when the Bengals have had to open the season without Burfict.

›› VIDEO: Watch Bengals punter’s hidden-ball trick

Rey started the first six games in 2015, when Burfict was the Physically Unable to Perform list while recovering from microfracture surgery. Rey had a game-clinching interception against San Diego in Week 2, and he recorded 15 tackles (a team high for the season) in a Week 4 triumph of Kansas City, followed by 13 stops the following week in an overtime win against Seattle as the Bengals started the year 8-0.

Rey also started the first three games last year while Burfict was suspended three games for repeated violations of the player safety rules following his hit on Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown in the wild-card playoff game.

›› A.J. Green calls Burfict celebration one of the best he’s seen

In addition to starting in the base defense, look for Rey to fill Burfict’s spot alongside Nick Vigil in the nickel package.

The bigger question who be who replaces Burfict on the back end when the team has to announce its 53-man roster by 4 p.m. Saturday.

The expectation is that the Bengals will keep six linebackers, with Rey, Vigil, Kevin Minter and fourth-round rookie Carl Lawson being locks. Sixth-round rookie Jordan Evans, who was a solid bet before the Burfict suspension, becomes close to a lock.

That leaves one spot for either Marquis Flowers, P.J. Dawson, Bryson Albright, Hardy Nickerson or Brandon Bell.

Follow Jay Morrison on Twitter

Nickerson and Bell, who are both undrafted rookies, have been impressive in the preseason. But Nickerson is hurt, as is Dawson.

Flowers has primarily been limited to special teams play since the Bengals took him in the fifth round in 2014, and he’s listed as Burfict’s backup on the depth chart. But Bell is the better bet to earn the final spot.

He’s entered the preseason games ahead of Flowers and had nearly twice as many snaps (27 to 14) in Sunday’s dress rehearsal game at Washington. Albright only played on special teams against the Redskins.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Prep girls basketball: Ferrell leads ‘inspired’ Wildcats past Badin
Prep girls basketball: Ferrell leads ‘inspired’ Wildcats past Badin

Layne Ferrell didn’t have the time or the mind-set for pain Tuesday night. The Franklin High School junior guard may have suffered a significant wrist injury in the regular-season finale against Valley View nearly two weeks ago, but she performed just fine in a Division II sectional semifinal against Badin. Ferrell totaled 20 points, 15 rebounds...
Prep girls basketball: Surging Monroe will play for sectional title
Prep girls basketball: Surging Monroe will play for sectional title

There wasn’t much suspense involved in Monroe High School’s latest girls basketball victory. The Hornets’ pressure defense dominated Southwestern Buckeye League rival Oakwood in a Division II sectional semifinal Tuesday night and powered Monroe to a 55-33 victory at Lebanon. “We knew what we needed to do and got it done,&rdquo...
Dayton notes: Landers’ dunk a momentum-swinger
Dayton notes: Landers’ dunk a momentum-swinger

Dayton Flyers guard Trey Landers watched the video of his alley-oop dunk on a reporter’s computer after the game. “Can I get an #SCTop10?!” Landers shouted. ESPN’s SportsCenter couldn’t do much better than this dunk, not only because it thrilled the crowd of 12,577 at UD Arena but because it was timely. The dunk by Landers...
Antetokounmpo comes up big for Dayton in victory against Saint Louis
Antetokounmpo comes up big for Dayton in victory against Saint Louis

Forward Josh Cunningham ran to the locker room after the Dayton Flyers beat Saint Louis 53-50 and shouted, “Kostas came up big!” That would be Kostas Antetokounmpo for everyone who forgot him, and they could be forgiven for doing so because he had not played like he did Tuesday for months. Antetokounmpo, a 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman...
HS Scores 2/20: Tecumseh, Fairmont girls earn sectionals wins

PREP RESULTS Boys Basketball Monday’s Results Regular Season Shekinah Christian 69, Mechanicsburg 52: Hershberger (SC) 17; Young (M) 23. Tuesday’s Results Catholic Central 61, Fairbanks 54 Ponitz 92, West Carrollton 46: Smith (P) 20. Girls Basketball Sectional Tournament Division I Tuesday’s Games At Lakota East Lakota West 66, Colerain...
More Stories