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Even though the Cincinnati Bengals re-signed Rey Maualuga over the weekend, that does not mean that they are out of the market for inside linebackers. With Maualuga missing four games last season and Vontaze Burfict playing in only five, the Bengals were caught flat-footed in their ability to fill those missing minutes with quality NFL players. So, on the brink of the new league season tomorrow, the Bengals are bringing in former Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk to see if he might be a fit for his hometown team, as reported by Conor Orr at NFL.com.
The Bengals’ 2014 defense has been widely panned for recording only 20 sacks, but the run-defense was nearly as bad, finishing 20th in the NFL in yards allowed. As long as that trend holds up, head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will be on the hunt for more bodies in the middle.
Whether or not Hawk is the guy for that role is open for debate. While he entered the league with great hype as the fifth overall pick in the 2006 Draft, Hawk has failed to develop into the J.J. Watt-type of defender that many envisioned. Still, in nine seasons with the Pack, Hawk has missed only two games out of a possible 144, and that durability would have been a boon for the Bengals in 2014.
The rumor mill surrounding Hawk has been pretty quiet since Green Bay released him last month, which could be an indication that the market does not hold much value for a 31-year-old linebacker who hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. That could work in the Bengals’ favor and let them add a solid player on the relative cheap.