St. Louis Rams' Todd Gurley (30) fights to break free from Cincinnati Bengals' Rey Maualuga (58) during the second half of play at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, November 29, 2015. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI | License Photo
CINCINNATI -- Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga of the Cincinnati Bengals is present for this week's mandatory mini-camp but he has not been practicing with the team. There has been no official reason given for Maualuga not practicing, but he has been working out on the sidelines, doing drills with trainers.
That has given the Bengals the opportunity to look at other players in that spot.
Veteran Vinny Rey is well-versed in the middle, as well as all of the linebacking spots, but rookie third-round pick Nick Vigil and veteran Karlos Dansby are seeing a lot of reps in the middle of the base 4-3 defense also.
"He's working hard right now to get to be where he needs to be," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said about Maualuga without being specific as to why the eight-year pro out of USC isn't where he needs to be. "I've got confidence he'll be there."
--There are a few other players not practicing in team drills this week, but their reasons are known. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard (shoulder), tight end Tyler Eifert (ankle), H-back Ryan Hewitt (knee) and defensive lineman Brandon Thompson (knee) are working their way back from injury.
--Weakside linebacker Vontaze Burfict did practice on Tuesday's first day of mini-camp, but was held out of Wednesday's second day.
Burfict will miss the first three games of the season after being suspended by the NFL for repeated violations of player safety rules.
The last of these violations came when Burfict was flagged 15 yards for a personal foul against Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown late in their AFC Wild Card Game last January.
The penalty, plus a subsequent 15-yard call against cornerback Adam Jones, put the Steelers in position to kick a 35-yard field goal that gave them an 18-16 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.
--The recent contract extension for running back Giovani Bernard continued the Bengals' history of holding onto to their core players before allowing them to reach free agency.
Cincinnati extended the contracts of tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, defensive tackle Geno Atkins, quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and guard Clint Boling among others in the past three years.
Bernard has gained 3,440 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on 640 career touches rushing and receiving in three seasons. The Bengals chose him in the second round (No. 37 overall) in the 2013 draft. Bernard was the first running back selected in his draft class.
"I don't know how they deal with everybody else, but for me I just kept my head down and kept working and that's how it's going to continue to be," Bernard said.
"This is definitely a reward, this is definitely something I thank the front office for and something that's a blessing."
--Former NFL defensive lineman Bryan Robinson spent three seasons with the Bengals (2005-07) among his 14 seasons in the league. Robinson was found dead in a Milwaukee motel room last Saturday. He was 41.
Robinson was part of coach Marvin Lewis' first playoff team (2005) and was remembered by Lewis as a "nuts-and-bolts guy" who helped Lewis turn around the culture of losing surrounding the franchise before his hiring in 2003.
"He really was a great pro, a veteran pro, very hard-nosed," Lewis said. "He really was the epitome of what we're looking for day-in and day-out. He went out there and showed young guys how to do it."
Defensive lineman Domata Peko and Whitworth were drafted by the Bengals in 2006. They are the only players left on the roster who played with Robinson in Cincinnati.
"B-Rob, John Thornton and Justin Smith, those were the ones who helped show me the ropes of how to be a professional," Peko said. "Not just being an older guy but being a leader as far as showing guys to work hard at practice, on the field, and to do things right."
Whitworth said Robinson's example carried over to the opposite side of the ball as well.
"I don't care if you play offense or defense, if you're not looking at the veterans on your team and figuring out if they're leaders, if they have the right mindset and what you can learn from them, you're missing out," Whitworth said.
"When I was coming in, yeah, Bryan was a guy you listened to and what he had to say and his mentality."