Posted: 7:10 a.m.
When he was drafted by the Bengals back in April, it wasn't said but people just assumed that head coach Marvin Lewis now had his Cincinnati version of Ray Lewis in the form of Rey Maualuga.
Same first name. Same swagger and intensity. Same division.
Even Ray Lewis, who was drafted and groomed into a Pro Bowler when Marvin Lewis was his defensive coordinator, figured it, too.
"I've watched him at USC," Ray Lewis told the Baltimore media Wednesday. "I think he was a young kid who liked flying to the ball. I think they're kind of bringing that same atmosphere over there. Marvin's got him somebody who can turn into a thumper and be a leader over there."
And Maualuga was watching Lewis long before this season.
"He's definitely a person I want to see myself as. An intimidator. This will be a perfect game to make a statement," said Maualuga, speaking as much for his fellow backers as for himself. "He's a beast. A great player. Someone that can make an impact on a defense."
Maualuga has had a more than a solid rookie year. He clearly brings the wood like few guys in the league with two forced fumbles, a pass defensed, a sack, and a team third-best 38 tackles. But he knows if he wants to be like Lewis, he'll have to do something with the ball.
"Be alert," he said. "Look for me in the end zone."
FUI'S CHARGE: When the Bengals decided to cut seventh-rounder Fui Vakapuna and keep Jeremi Johnson on the active roster and Chris Pressley on the practice squad, they weren't down on Vakapuna. What Johnson and Pressley have on Vakapuna at the moment is their ability to anchor and absorb jolts from linebackers and defensive ends in the blocking game.
But the Bengals love the 6-0, 260-pound Vakapuna's athleticism and think he's a good player whose best days are in front of him. Vakapuna, who re-signed with the club Tuesday, is a bright, engaging guy that knows all of this.
"They just want that punch, that shot, explosiveness," Vakapuna said Wednesday before his first practice back. "Getting out and just hitting somebody. I think it is more leverage, learning how to get my legs under me, my hips, my thrust, everything."
NUMBERS GAME: The Bengals have won four straight AFC North games dating back to last season's win over Cleveland. The Bengals don't want to go full circle. The last division loss came to the Ravens at PBS.
» Cincinnati's longest North winning streak is six games, starting Nov. 6, 2005 with a win in Baltimore and ending with a loss in Baltimore 364 days later.
» Since 1999, the Ravens and the Steelers have allowed a league-low 20 100-yard rushers each. The Bengals have one-fifth of the games against Baltimore with Corey Dillon doing it in 2001 and 2002, Rudi Johnson in 2005, and Cedric Benson last month. They have three 100-yarders against Pittsburgh in that stretch: Dillon in '99 and '00 and Johnson in '03. That means 10 straight games without a 100-yard rusher vs. Pittsburgh.