Vontaze Burfict in ‘tremendous shape’ as Bengals report to camp

Vontaze Burfict in ‘tremendous shape’ as Bengals report to camp

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CINCINNATI — Bengals linebacker jersey will report to training camp Thursday with no cloud hanging over his head.

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Burfict hasn’t been able to fully participate in training camp in two years. He sat out the 2015 offseason while rehabbing from microfracture surgery that caused him to miss six games. Burfict started last year’s training camp on the non-football injury list for a foot injury that caused him to report to camp a few pounds overweight. He did not participate in any preseason games last year because of a three-game suspension to start the season.

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Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Burfict is in “tremendous shape” this summer, having dropped 15-20 pounds. It’s exactly where Guenther hoped Burfict would be.

wholesale jerseys from china “He’s probably in the high 240s. He’s played at 260, 265. He’s moving good,” Guenther said. “I told him it’ll add three years to your career if you stay at that level. He can be just as physical at 245, 250 as he can be at 265.”

Wholesale Martavis Bryant jersey Vontaze Burfict jersey jersey has slimmed down and is ready to participate fully in Bengals training camp for the first time since 2014. Aaron Doster/USA TODAY SportsFor Burfict, the mental mindset is just as important. Guenther said getting the idea in Burfict’s head that he is preparing for Week 1 is huge.

“It’s not, ‘I’m going to start playing Week 4, Week 8, whatever it is; I’m going to wait to get in shape.’ He’s coming back in tremendous shape in the spring. He’s got the right mindset, so we’re going to need him to be that high-level performer,” Guenther said.

Guenther and Bengals owner said they think Burfict has grown up and moved past some of the things that stunted his career. Burfict’s three-game suspension last season was because of repeated violations of the NFL safety rules, and a reputation for being a dirty player has followed him throughout his career.

Burfict was fined $75,000 last October for stomping on Patriots running back in a pile, which he appealed. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis defended Burfict’s actions at the time and said he didn’t think he did anything wrong.

Burfict was flagged once last season for unnecessary roughness, which occurred in Week 15 vs. the Steelers.

“I think he was still as intense emotionally, and I’ll never want to take that edge away from him,” Guenther said. “I think he played a lot smarter and he backed off things. Teams maybe tried to prod at him a cheap jersey bit and he backed off. His emotional level was still high and I think guys feed off that a bit. You don’t want a Mike linebacker who doesn’t say anything. I thought he was a lot more professional, let’s put it that way…

“It’s always going to be a work in progress with him. I think he understands that. I think he did a better job of taking a step in the right direction last year.”

Added Brown: “He’s had these things that got him suspended on-field. He has suffered from that; we have, too. We don’t want it. He knows that. He’s grown up, too. He’s a heck of a player, but he has to toe the line and he’s been asked to do that. I think he will.”

The Bengals first practice begins 3 p.m. ET on Friday.

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