Rey Maualuga preparing as if he’ll play this week

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The Dolphins signed veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga after rookie Raekwon McMillan tore his ACL this summer, but didn’t get him on the field for any of the team’s preseason games.

Maualuga reported to the team at 270 pounds needed to drop weight before the Dolphins were going to feel ready to put him on the field. On Monday, Maualuga said he’s down to the weight the team wants him at — around 250 pounds — and expects to play against the Buccaneers.

“Slowly but surely, I’m getting there,” Maualuga said, via the Miami Herald. “We Samoans tend to be big boned. I feel good. I’m preparing as if I’m going to play.”

Maualuga said he doesn’t feel like he’s lost a step as he enters his ninth NFL season, but he’s coming off a year with the Bengals that saw him play a reserve role for the first time in his career. The Dolphins are banking on him doing something more this year and we’ll start to find out if that bet will pay off this week.