Linebacker crop grows with experience

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                 Any list of Bengals linebackers starts with No. 55.

With veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby signing Wednesday,  here is an in-depth look at how their linebackers stack up. They keep six or seven on the Opening Day 53-man roster with the number recently at six:

VONTAZE BURFICT 6-1 250 _ Fifth Year; Age 25; 45 starts: Starting WILL backer . . . Elected to Pro Bowl in 2013, when he led NFL in tackles . . . After missing first six games last season on PUP, re-established himself as one of NFL's best three-down backers with team's third most tackles (74), two picks, and a sack . . . Can also play middle .  . .  And SAM in a pinch . . . Suspended for first three games . . .

REY MAUALUGA 6-2 255 _ Eighth Year; Age 29; 98 starts: Starting Middle backer . . . During five seasons as starter in middle, Bengals defense has finished in top ten against rush three times . .. Last season he finished second on club in tackles with 75 despite missing two games with calf injury . . . Logged team-high 10 tackles in Wild Card Game . . . Rated 15th of 60 top inside linebackers in 2015 by profootballfocus.com.

KARLOS DANSBY  6-4 243 _ 13th Year; Age 34; 171 starts: Has pedigree to pencil in as starting SAM . ..  Can also play WILL . .. Solid locker room guy . . . Durable performer who has missed dozen games in  dozen years . . . 180 NFL games would be seventh on Bengals all-time list . . . Rated third best inside linebacker in coverage by PFF  . .. Would make him early projection to play nickel while Burfict out . . . Six pick-sixes tied for most ever by a linebacker  . . . In second season with Browns last year, played team-high 1,052 snaps, nearly 99 percent of plays . .. Had game-high 11 tackles vs. Bengals last year at PBS . .. 33rd player taken in 2004 draft by Arizona, where he played seven years and 106 games . . . Followed by three years and 46 games in Miami and two years, 28 games in Cleveland.

"Karlos' numbers speak for themselves," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in Wednesday's news release. "And he is also a great veteran leader. He has the flexibility to play in all situations defensively. Just a very productive, quality guy we are fortunate to add to our team."

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Rey Maualuga (58) and Vincent Rey (57) have played all over the lot in this defense.

 A.J. HAWK  6-1 240 _ 11th Year; Age 32; 147 starts: Started 12 games last season at SAM, including Wild Card Game ... Can also play WILL . . . Hometown guy (Centerville, Ohio) who returned last season to post 24 tackles and one sack . . . Played 293 snaps or about 28 percent of plays . . .Another durable and seasoned performer who has missed just two of 174 games . ..

VINCENT REY 6-0 255 _ 6th Year; Age 28; 25 starts: Valuable backup who just signed three-year deal . . . Can play all three spots . . . Has led team in tackles past two seasons . . . Started 17 games at WILL last two seasons . . . Started four games at middle last two seasons . . . Also can play nickel . . . Look for him to start the first three games in place of Burfict . . . Special teams co-captain . ..

*P.J. DAWSON 6-0 240 _ 2nd Year; Age: 23; 0 starts: *Played only WILL last season when he appeared in 11 games with just 35 snaps . .. Talented guy they'd love to get on field with Maualuga and Burfict, but needs seasoning . .. Watching pro like Dansby can only help . .. A Tez-like producer in college with 136 tackles at Texas Christian in 2014 before Bengals took him in third round last draft  . . .

MARQUIS FLOWERS 6-3 250 _ 3rd Year; Age: 24; 0 starts: Sixth-round pick in 2014 . . . Missed all of 2015 with shoulder surgery after injury in pre-season finale . . .Showed flashes in 71 rookie snaps . .. Safety who switched to backer junior year at Arizona and has athleticism to play both WILL and SAM . ..

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                        P.J. Dawson is looking to get on the field.

JAYSON DIMANCHE 6-1 244 _ Third Year; Age 25; 1 start:   Free agent out of Southern Illinois who played his first two seasons with Bengals before they cut him after last preseason . . . Returns after playing one game with Cleveland last year . .. Will work at both outside spots  . .. As only CFA to make club for 2013 AFC North champs, finished second in special teams tackles . .. Played 12 games in '14 before breaking arm and after forcing special teams fumble to go with three tackles . . . Has played 108 scrimmage snaps with Bengals. . .  

TREVOR ROACH 6-2 237  _ 1st year; Age 24; 0 starts: Undrafted free agent from Nebraska who spent all last season on practice squad as rookie . .. Made NFL debut in Wild Card Game after Emmanuel Lamur was lost for year with shoulder injury the week before . . . Didn't take snap from scrimmage but assisted on special teams tackle . . .

JEFF LUC 6-1 256 _ 1st year; Age: 24; 0 starts: Bengals picked him up after the season . .. Big inside player . . . University of Cincinnati product  who didn't last with Dolphins last year as rookie after signed him undrafted . ..  Showed enough in preseason Kevin Coyle, Miami's former defensive coordinator now  Bengals secondary coach recommended him . .. Had 15.5 sacks in two seasons in Clifton . ..

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