BUFORD, Ga. — We know Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis loves WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict's aggressiveness and talent and he calls his second-year prize free agent a "natural leader."
But that didn't stop him Tuesday from taking Burfict to task for getting into an altercation with Falcons running back Steven Jackson during Monday's practice.
"I told him if he did that to me what he did to Steven, I would have hit him with a two by four," Lewis said. "Steven should have gotten him in his sleep last night."
Lewis objected to Burfict jumping on Jackson's back after Burfict blew up the fullback and met Jackson in the hole. But then, one of Burfict's hallmarks is he doesn't back down and he wasn't going to back down to Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler with 10,000 yards, after Tuesday morning's walkthrough. He said the confrontation was overplayed but that it was caused by Jackson's running style.
"He runs with his head down 75 percent of the time. He'll get fined a couple of times," Burfict said of the new rule that prevents runners from using the crown of their helmets outside the tackle box and three yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
"I got off the block and Jackson was running with his head down, which you're not supposed to do. He was running with his head completely down. My arm wrapped around his body, whatever, and he just kept running with his head down and at the end he tried to give me a shove and he called me a bleep."
Burfict came out of college with the reputation of being too aggressive and getting flagged at one point once per game for temper failings. Yet he felt like he controlled himself this time.
"OK. I just looked at him in the eye," Burfict said. "I'm not going to say anything. I was miked. There was no point of me saying anything."
But Lewis has clearly shown he'll continue to hammer home his point in order to make sure Burfict stays on the field to reach the potential he sees for him.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Even though veteran
» Lewis said linebacker Vinnie Rey, who wrenched a knee Monday, won't play this week but could be back next week...He also said rookie defensive tackle Larry Black (dislocated ankle) is going on season-ending injured reserve, which puts the Bengals one under the roster minimum at 89. Look for Black to be a major player in Tuesday's first installment of Hard Knocks at 10 p.m. on HBO...Wide receiver
» Could there be more of these combined practices? Lewis has talked to Colts coach Chuck Pagano about meeting halfway between Cincy and Indy.