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Double time

Posted Mar 15, 2014

It is a big weekend for the Bengals’ two special teams captains.

Between Friday night’s rehearsal dinner and Saturday’s wedding of running back Cedric Peerman, linebacker Vincent Rey briefly shed his groomsman’s duties for a Paul Brown Stadium appointment to sign a two-year contract that takes  one of their three restricted free agents off the market.

The Bengals appear to still be mulling an offer sheet that has been made to one of them, the reported four-year, $13 million dollar contract to slot receiver Andrew Hawkins.  Still on the RFA market is slot receiver, Dane Sanzenbacher. The Bengals have until midnight Tuesday to match on Hawkins and it wouldn’t be a shock if they let the Browns wait until Wednesday’s wee hours to get an answer.

In the 26-year-old Rey they have a variety of answers. Coming off the best of his four seasons from scrimmage, Rey is contending for a starting job at most likely SAM linebacker with Emmanuel Lamur now that James Harrison has been released. But new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, his position coach the last two seasons, loves his versatility and could see him playing any of the three backer spots.

“The best thing about this contract is I get to keep making plays on defense and special teams in this city and try to help this team win,” Rey said Saturday morning before the vows.

 The 6-2, 250-pound Rey, undrafted out of Duke in 2010 mainly because of his size, blossomed under Guenther after playing just two snaps at linebacker in his first two seasons while becoming a special teams staple.

After getting on the field for 111 plays in 2012, he shot to 368 last year, according to profootballfocus.com, when injuries to Lamur and Taylor Mays saw Guenther promote Rey to starting nickel backer. When middle linebacker Rey Maualuga missed a month with a knee injury, Rey started and became the first Bengal ever to record three sacks and interception in a game during the Nov. 10 overtime loss in Baltimore.

The Ravens game was quintessential Rey. He played 96 percent of the snaps from scrimmage while playing 45 percent of the kicking plays on the way to working more than 700 snaps this season combined.

“He’s an integral part of what we do,” Guenther said. “He knows every spot, he can play nickel, he knows the defense. You look at what he does on special teams and he’s smart and tough, the kind of guy you want.”

Rey may play with an anonymous reliability, but he’s well known to the kids of Cincinnati. A New York City native who wants to become a professional educator after his playing days, Rey is part of a program pushing for a 50 percent cut in the dropout rate by 2018 and he’s a familiar figure on the United Way billboards dotting Greater Cincinnati.

He arrived four years ago with the goal of becoming a high school principal in New York City. Now, he’s not sure what job he wants in education, but he says it could also happen in Cincinnati. You can see him at Friday night high school games and then on those Tuesday days off tutoring teenagers.

“When you go into the high schools and elementary schools, then you really feel like you’ve become part of the community,” Rey said. “I could see myself doing something in education here.”

Rey had been tendered $1.4 million for this season, so figure he’s making about $2 million or a little more for each season. And they’ll get some bang for the buck.

“I think I can do both. I think I can start and still play on special teams,” Rey said. “I’ve played on teams for four years and it’s somewhere I think I can help the team.”

 

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