The Bengals will be receiving some defensive reinforcement this weekend as they put their undefeated record on the line against the Steelers. The team announced today (via Twitter) that they have activated linebacker Vontaze Burfict from the physically unable to perform list. To make room on the active roster, the team has released receiver Greg Little.
The former undrafted free agent hasn’t played for the Bengals in more than a year, and the 25-year-old underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee during the winter. Following a rookie campaign where he started 14 games, Burfict established himself as one of the league’s tops young linebackers, compiling 171 tackles, three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in 2013. His performance earned him a four-year, $20MM contract extension in 2014.
Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that the Bengals will likely ease the linebacker back into play, and it’s more likely that Burfict treats the performance like a “preseason ramp up.” The player echoed that sentiment when discussing his inevitable return.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a tough game,” Burfict said (via Jim Owczarski of Cincinnati.com). “Who hasn’t played in a year and come plays 70, 80 snaps in one game? So I’m just looking forward to contributing as much as I can.”
Little briefly saw the field for the Bengals in 2014, but he’s yet to make an appearance in 2015. In 54 career games with Cincinnati and the Browns, the 26-year-old has 161 catches for 1,890 yards and eight touchdowns.