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LB Maualuga Plans on Being More of a Leader in 2011

As he moves to his natural position in the middle of a defense, Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga plans to be a team leader, Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

“It felt good to be in the front of the huddle and having all eyes on you and making sure to break that huddle with confidence,” Maualuga said after team workouts on Tuesday. “This is a little bit of the playbook that we have installed, but at the same time I feel good about where we are and the progress that we’ve made.”

Since being chosen with the 38th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft out of USC, Maualuga has started 30 of 31 games at strong-side linebacker, totaling 138 tackles, two quarterback sacks, two interceptions, and three interceptions.

The third Trojan linebacker selected in ’09, Maualuga is aware that his NFL performance is not at the same level as former college teammates Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews, who have combined for three Pro Bowls (two Matthews, one Cushing), one first-team All-Pro selection (Matthews), NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (Cushing), NFC Defensive Player of the Year (Matthews, 2010) and a Lombardi Trophy (Matthews).

“That’s killing me,” he said. “We all played together but…I’m just trying to find me.”

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