Burfict Emerges As Center Of Bengals Defense

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are building their defense around linebacker Vontaze Burfict, a sign of how much he means to the franchise as he enters his third season.

The Pro Bowl linebacker is growing into the leader that coach Marvin Lewis has craved.

Burfict signed with the Bengals in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State, where his penchant for personal fouls made teams wary.

Last season, he made the Pro Bowl, led the team in tackles and was the AFC’s defensive player of the week after an eye-opening game against Cleveland.

When Lewis was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore, he had Ray Lewis leading the unit. He sees Burfict growing into a lead role in Cincinnati.

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Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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