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Vontaze Burfict has grown into Bengals leading tackler

DeMarco Murray, Vontaze Burfict AP

For a guy who many considered “non-draftable,” Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has turned out OK.

In fact, the undrafted rookie is now the Bengals’ leading tackler, moving past Rey Maualuga last week with 10 stops against the Eagles.

I think he’s getting more comfortable,” Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said, via Kevin Kelly of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’s had some tough assignments in the last six weeks.”

Since moving into the starting lineup in Week Three, Burfict has logged double-digit tackles in nine games.

If he stays atop the list, he’d become just the fifth rookie to lead the team in tackles, joining Reggie Williams (1976), James Francis (1990), Takeo Spikes (1998) and Odell Thurman (2005).

“I think he just likes playing football,” Zimmer said. “The good thing about him is when he makes a mistake, he can say, ‘Hey that was me. I messed up.’ A lot of times guys don’t know when they messed up. So that’s impressive for a young guy.”

What’s impressive is the way the Bengals were able to work with a guy a lot of teams wouldn’t touch, proving again that the right fit is more important than collecting the shiniest parts when building a team.

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16 Responses to “Vontaze Burfict has grown into Bengals leading tackler”
  1. mjzaky says: Dec 20, 2012 10:17 AM

    It never fails- the most powerful motivator is being told, ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘no, you can’t’. I’m impressed with the Bengals FO and coaches for bringing him in and developing him to where he is today. Seriously awesome to see.

  2. steelers4385 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:21 AM

    Good for him

  3. 303bengalguy says: Dec 20, 2012 10:22 AM

    Paul Guenther deserves a ton of credit here…. and to hear them tell it, his LB corps heaps praise on him every possible chance they can. Besides Burfict, he also got Maualuga into playing shape MID-SEASON, and has turned him into a solid MLB, when we were all calling for him to be replaced early on this year. I think that Manny Lawson has also been a solid veteran to shepherd these guys into maturity. Credit all around – from Lewis, to Zimmer, to Guenther and the vets on the team for Burfict flourishing. I’m happy for him too!

  4. nodindenver says: Dec 20, 2012 10:22 AM

    This guy could have been had as a 6th or 7th round pick for the Broncos. That is not much of a risk in my mind and obviously he can play. Good for Marvin Lewis to take a chance. Same goes for Jeff Fisher with Janoris Jenkins.

  5. 303bengalguy says: Dec 20, 2012 10:23 AM

    It also helps to be playing behind one of the best D-lines in the NFL… anchored by THEE best D Tackle, the phenom Geno Atkins.

  6. ogre2010 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:26 AM

    Take that ‘draft know it all’: Mel Kipper, Todd McShay and Mike Mayock

  7. flushdownmikebrown says: Dec 20, 2012 10:36 AM

    Zimmer is amazing…. takes a 3rd round pick in Geno and makes him a potential DPOY, Burfict was undrafted and could be a ROY candidate, terrence newman is relevant again…..

    The man can coach and get the players that work for him

  8. jwil007 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:47 AM

    Still think Burfict will be the future MLB for Cincy….Also Remember this name….Emmanuel Lamur…Heck of an outside LB….1st game in as an undrafted rookie from Kansas State he gets 2 passes defensed on Peyton Manning… And thats not easy for a rookie to do… Look for him to take off in 2013 with Burfict and Thomas Howard when he returns….

  9. nman087 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:48 AM

    As a person who lives in AZ and saw him play at ASU many times, going undrafted was exactly what he needed. After his freshman season when everyone started calling him ‘the next Ray Lewis’ he believed it and got lazy and out of shape and he needed to be brought back to reality so he could live up to his true potential.
    Good for him!

  10. naturalandjacked says: Dec 20, 2012 11:03 AM

    I love this story, but as a Bengal fan, let’s wait till after the 1st off season to call this a huge success. In typical Bengal fashion, the first off season is brutal for these guys. I’m routing for him that for sure.

  11. bamabengal says: Dec 20, 2012 11:10 AM

    Bengals finally beat the Steelers this week and make it to back to back playoffs for the first time in 30 years. Go Bengals!

  12. marshawnlynchlookslikepredator says: Dec 20, 2012 11:35 AM

    I enjoyed Nessler sticking it to Mayock last Thursday about how Mayock said this kid was undraftable.

  13. godofwine330 says: Dec 20, 2012 12:00 PM

    Good for him. If he can be mor like the first two rookies to lead the Bengals in tackles (Reggie Williams & James Francis) and less like Odell Thurmond that would be great. Sometimes getting a guy with the right system with the right leadership helps. Please let the Bengals beat the steelers and I will be happy.

  14. crownofthehelmet says: Dec 20, 2012 1:50 PM

    With how great the F.O. is in finding this gem and others over the years, it’s no wonder the Bengals have been so dominant during this era.

    That’s sarcasm, for you Bengals fans who actually can read.

  15. mikebrownistheworstownerinprosports says: Dec 20, 2012 10:44 PM

    crownofthehelmet is probably a Raiders fan.

  16. jamal1971 says: Dec 21, 2012 4:49 PM

    Good job,Bengals. If I am not mistaken four linebackers on this year’s team weren’t drafted. That is a good job in finding talent and molding them into solid players. They have the smallest scouting staff,but they know how to find talent especially in the last three or four years since Marvin and Katie have taken over.

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