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How backers stack up as Dansby signs


With Emmanuel Lamur (above) now in Minnesota, it looks like the Bengals have opted for more experience at linebacker.

With Wednesday's signing of the Browns' Karlos Dansby, here's a thumbnail look at the Bengals linebacker group:

The 34-year-old Dansby, a second-round pick of the Cardinals in 2004, is a 6-3, 250-pound versatile sort that can play both SAM and WILL on the outside and gives Cincinnati depth they need at that spot.

Known as a pro's pro, Dansby is a candidate to start at SAM backer along with middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and WILL backer Vontaze Burfict.

Vincent Rey remains the first man off the bench who can play all three spots. A.J. Hawk, who started 11 games at SAM last season and who can also play WILL, is heading into the last year of his deal at age 32. There is also last year's third-round pick P.J. Dawson, who mainly lines up at WILL.

Also back in the mix is 2014 sixth-rounder Marquis Flowers, who missed all last season with a shoulder injury and can play both SAM and WILL. With Dansby joining the 32-year-old Hawk and 29-year-old Maualuga, they could draft another backer to add some youth.  But it's still the deepest they've been at this spot with experience in years and it continues to open up the draft board because now it's not a must to take a backer.

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