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Posts tagged with "Vontaze Burfict"

Cincinnati looks to break into the win column in the unfriendly confines of Lambeau Field.

A.J. Green
 Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Traveling to Lambeau Field for a game against the Green Bay Packers is never an easy proposition. But the task becomes even more daunting when you are a Cincinnati Bengalsteam that has dropped its first two games of the season on its own turf.

Cincinnati will try to find the formula for success that has eluded so many others when traveling to Green Bay on Sunday, September 24, 2017 for a 4:25 p.m. showdown.

Green Bay comes into the contest fresh off a 34-23 road dismantling by the Atlanta Falconsthat saw its record drop to 1-1. It also put an end to the initial optimism generated by its 17-9 win over Seattle in the Packers’ home opener.

Cincinnati, with a record of 0-2, tries to join a list of 27 other teams since 1990 who began the season at 0-2 and went on to make the playoffs. The 2003 Philadelphia Eagles are the only team in NFL history to do so after losing its first two games at home.

Sunday will mark the 13th meeting between the two teams, with the Bengals claiming victories the last three times the teams have met. All three games have been close, with the Bengals winning in Cincinnati by a 34-30 score in 2013, the last time these two teams played. The Bengals prevailed in Green Bay by a 31-24 margin in 2009 and won in Cincinnati in 2005, 21-14.

Probably the most memorable of those affairs was the 2013 contest, a game that saw the Bengals offense overcome a sloppy performance that included four turnovers and the failure to record a first down from the three-minute mark of the first quarter until early in the fourth.

Cincinnati’s defense, meanwhile, led by Vontaze Burfict, held Green Bay to 100 yards of total offense in the first half, including one of seven on third down. The Packers still managed to lead by a 30-14 margin midway through the third quarter before interceptions by Terence Newmanand Leon Hall and an A.J. Green touchdown reception helped close the gap to 30-27.

The Packers, attempting to run out the clock, faced a 3rd-and-12 from the Bengals 41-yard-line with just over four minutes remaining. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for what appeared to be a first down, but a Marvin Lewis challenge left Green Bay facing fourth-and-one with four minutes left.

Green Bay went for it, and running back Johnathan Franklin fumbled short of the sticks. Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson recovered and lost the ball six yards into his return. The Bengals’ Terence Newman scooped up the loose ball up in stride and returned it 58 yards for the deciding touchdown.

Struggle has been the word of the day for the Bengals’ offense in 2017. Against the Baltimore Ravens on opening day, Cincinnati turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions, and quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked five times. Dalton had a little more success against Houston and committed no turnovers. But he was still sacked three times in the first half, and the result was another loss.

The Bengals now have a new offensive coordinator in Bill Lazor and hope to be able to get A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert more involved. Those two, along with the addition of John Ross and more consistency in a running game led by Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, hope to get Cincinnati into the win column for the first time.

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Tez is working his tail off to keep in shape and prepare for the 2017 season, a contract year.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

At one point in his career, Vontaze Burfict was on the verge of becoming a top-three NFL linebacker.

But after two promising seasons to begin his career, Burfict has been derailed by injuries and suspensions during the last three seasons. Concussions and microfracture surgery limited him to just five games in 2014, and he wound up opening the 2015 season on PUP while recovering from the knee surgery.

Burfict would go on to play in 10 games that year, but he was never quite the impact player he was in 2013, easily the best season of football he’s put together. This past season, Burfict served a three-game season to begin what was a disastrous campaign for the Bengals.

Then came a concussion late in the year, which led to Burfict missing the final two games of a forgettable 6-9-1 season. While Burfict was productive during the games in which he played, 2016 was the third-straight season in which he missed five-plus games.

Now, Burfict is looking to get back to the player we saw in 2013 and even improve on that. This will be the first time since the 2014 offseason in which Burfict won’t have an offseason surgery to rehab through, nor a suspension to begin the season.

Burfict admits those issues led to him having a significant drop off in his level of play, but he’s ready to move past them.

“It set me back for pretty much, I would say two years because coming in you’re not able to mesh your whole body how you want to so you get other injuries,” Burfict told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “This offseason I was able to focus on all the little muscles in my body, conditioning and doing all types of yogas and stuff like that. I feel great. I came in in great shape and I’m just here to try and lead the team.”

A big reason why Burfict feels good about his offseason thus far is his newfound dedication to keeping his body healthy, both with conditioning and nourishment.

“Just eating right, knowing what to eat, counting my calories and stuff like that,” said Burfict. “That was the biggest thing for me. Just counting my calories and just seeing my body transform was huge for me.”

 

They don’t wanna see you winning !! @fatboy_sse (voice)

A post shared by Vontaze Burfict 5️⃣5️⃣ (@king55_tez) on

It may come as no surprise the Bengals had four of their six wins last season with Burfict in the lineup. Even when Burfict is at 70-percent of himself, he is still one of the NFL’s better backers, not to mention a major force in the Bengals’ defense. Having that for 16 games in 2017 would likely lead to more than six wins, but Burfict is obviously hoping to accomplish more.

“I just wanted to just fix my game, be a better leader, show up to everything on time, get stronger, faster, and I would say I did all those things,” Burfict said. “And a leader is still in motion.”

 

Last rep make it count @goldfeetglobal @sportsacademyhq

A post shared by Vontaze Burfict 5️⃣5️⃣ (@king55_tez) on

Leadership will be something the Bengals need from Burfict now more than ever. Gone are long-time defensive leaders Domata Peko and Rey Maualuga, paving the way for Burfict to take on a major role in that department.

“I know – I’ve just got to help the guys out, the young guys out, and do everything little right because they’re watching me,” Burfict said. “Just be that leader, be that role model and lead by example. Don’t ever do too much, just make sure you do your job, and they’ll follow along.”

Defensive Paul Guenther is thrilled with what he’s seen of Burfict thus far, which is mirroring the All-Pro-caliber backer we saw in 2013.

“He’s come back in tremendous shape,” Guenther said. “I have a picture of him walking out of the tunnel at the Pro Bowl, and he looked lean and like he should, and I said to him the other day man, I pulled that picture out there, and I said, man, you look just like that guy again.

“He’s come back, and he looks in great shape, he’s got his weight where he wants it, and it’ll help him be faster. He’s not carrying as much weight, so it’ll help him out with the longevity of his career and also his playing.”

Last year, Burfict reported to offseason workouts “grossly overweight.” It certainly appeared to linger into the regular season, as Burfict endured a rough start in his first few games back. The Bengals didn’t allow him to play in the preseason as to avoid injury, so, he didn’t get much practice in before getting thrust into action in Week 4.

It sounds like Burfict is on the right path to getting back to the star we saw him blossoming into before his recent setbacks. That will be critical to the Bengals getting back into the playoffs for the fifth time in Burfict’s sixth NFL season.

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