With the clock ticking toward a possible lockout, Thursday could be the last day that players might be allowed inside Paul Brown Stadium, which meant that Rey Maualuga dropped to pick up shoulder pads and hip pads.
Maualuga also took a couple minutes to answer the criticism from defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer during the NFL Scouting Combine that Maualuga has to play better in 2011 after Zimmer’s assessment “he was extremely average” last season. Maualuga is taking the criticism as a challenge but also said that he supports what Zimmer said 100 percent.
“I think it’s a good thing he said that and then again why did he single me out. I don’t know?” Maualuga said. “I think this organization expected a lot out of me when I first stepped foot in this place. Then again I expected a lot out of myself as well. It’s like you ask the fan sitting out in the stands what stood out from Rey this year and I’m sure people won’t say as much. They will say I made a play here or there. I’m not satisfied with how I performed.”
This past season Maualuga played in every game, starting all but one. He had 81 tackles, six quarterback pressures, a sack and two interceptions. The only notable plays though were the interceptions against the Jets and Chargers.
With Dhani Jones slated to become an unrestricted free agent, all indications are that Maualuga will move back to his spot at middle linebacker. Going into his third season with the Bengals, Maualuga also realizes that this is his time to step up.
“I need to start becoming a leader and the person I want to be and then everything will fall into place. I can’t sit here and wait,” Maualuga said. “:It’s my third year in and it’s time to step it up, wake up and play. Things don’t get handed to you, you have to grab it.
“Now is my time to step it up and prove people wrong. I can’t be some random dude walking around the locker rooms anymore.”
As far as what he will do in the event of a lockout, Maualuga said he will remain in town and work out at a local facility along with Fui Vakapuna and Jordan Shipley.
About a lockout, Maualuga said: “I don’t think it will be a long time. Football is a big sport. We’ve got the guys working on it. We’ve got people negotiating. In the time being just workout, stay out of trouble and be ready when things resume.”