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Slants and screens: Tez to steer clear of refs, misses WILL spot; AJones out for Sunday, WJax ?

Posted Nov 17, 2017


Vontaze Burfict reflected Friday on his ejection.

While confirming Friday that officials have talked to him disrespectfully and cursed at him, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is looking to stay out of their way after he got ejected from last Sunday’s game in Tennessee for coming into physical contact with one of them.

“I told Coach I’m going to try stay out of their way,” Burfict said before Friday’s walk through. “And it’s kind of hard to stay out of the refs’ way because they’re right in the middle of everything.

“I don’t want them to throw any more flags on me. I want to try and stay on their good side.”

He certainly got on their wrong side with about five minutes left in the first half last Sunday when Burfict said he tried to shrug off the ref’s forearm and was greeted with, “You can’t bleeping touch me. You’re out of this game.”

Burfict said the ref was coming in to de-escalate his discussion with Titans offensive lineman Brian Schwenke, but it was already over.

“I actually like that guy,” Burfict said. “I’ve been playing against him since college. He played at Cal. We’ve had some battles. He won. I won. We talked before that drive. It was just a simple run play. He came up to block me … We had talked like, ‘‘What’s up, man? How you doing,’ just being from college.”

On the sidelines when Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis asked him if he had pushed the official, Burfict said he had merely lifted his hand up.

“I didn’t think I did anything bad. Obviously you’re not supposed to touch the official, but I didn’t think I touched him maliciously at all,” Burfict said. “I pretty much said, ‘Excuse me.’   The refs come up talking to me disrespectfully, cursing at me, want me to curse back at them. That’s obviously not going to help me. I’m not going to get a flag back in my favor.”

Several teammates defended Burfict after the game, saying he’ being unfairly targeted by officials, Burfict, who has been suspended once in each of the past two seasons because of violations of player safety rules, say he’s changed his style.

“I’m being less aggressive,” Burfict said. “There are plays I could have made being aggressive and plays I wish I could have had back because, ‘Damn, I’m trying to ease up. It affects my game.”

It was a confusing day for Burfict all the way around. He was shocked to hear reports that he had cussed out Titans fans while walking to the locker room.

“I was telling my girlfriend what happened,” Burfict said. “She’s been with me since Arizona State. She was giving her input … They said I was cussing out fans. I was talking to my girlfriend.

"It gives you a clue of what the NFL, the media has portrayed me as to everybody else and not knowing who I really am."

Burfict says what bothers him is that the refs are watching him, but don’t call what is being done to provoke him.

“That’s the only thing that makes me mad,” he said, pointing to a play where he said he was getting squeezed by the legs of a Titans offensive lineman.  “If I’ve got a target on my back and they’re watching me, they should watch what the first person does … They’re waiting for me to react rather than throw something when they see something not within the rules. But I’m focused (on the next game). I’m not worried about what happened last week. It’s a bummer I wasn’t out there to help my team.”

Burfict say it’s such a physical game filled with passion.

 “In a heated moment when a guy is talking crap to you and you’re getting pushed after the play and the ref comes up and puts his arm on you like you started something or pushed somebody first, every time that happens, that gets old,” Burfict said.

_With middle linebacker Kevin Minter (elbow) ruled out for Sunday’s game in Denver (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12), Burfict figures to be starting in the middle for the fourth straight game. But the position hasn’t exactly grown on him and he says defensive coordinator Paul Guenther knows he prefers playing WILL.

Don’t get Burfict wrong. He’ll play where ever Guenther tells him to play.

“Wherever they put me to help the team I don’t really care,” Burfict said. “But I’m more comfortable at WILL. I’ve played there what? The last six years.”
Burfict says a middle backer needs the offseason and spring practices to get the eyes used to the different landscape and keys.

“You can’t just middle of the season try to go play the middle,” Burfict said. “There are different things you need to see. I like it, but I would just need a training camp.”

If you think Burfict hasn’t been as big of an impact in the middle, he’ll probably agree with you.

“At WILL, it’s more reaction. At MIKE, you can sit and read,” Burfict said. “Teams are obviously scheming when I’m in the middle to have the tackle and fullback come up to me. At WILL, it’s more of a one-on-one deal. At MIKE they’re sending two guys to block me and not block the other backer.”

-Starting cornerback Adam Jones (concussion) was ruled of Sunday's game and his replacement, William Jackson (toe) was listed as questionable, but he was listed as fully participating in Friday's walk-through. Same with starting wide receiver Brandon LaFell (knee). Also ruled out was starting middle linebacker Kevin Minter (elbow) and starting nose tackle Pat Sims (calf).

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