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Marvin Lewis: No down side to signing Vontaze Burfict

Vontaze Burfict

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vonaze Burfict works a drill during NFL football rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium, Friday, May, 11, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tony Tribble)


Coming out of Arizona State, Vontaze Burfict was viewed as a risky proposition, and he ultimately went undrafted. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis says he was happy to sign Burfict as an undrafted free agent because there’s no risk at all to that.

“I don’t know what down side there is. I think he’s a young man who has fallen from graces everywhere,” Lewis said on NFL Network’s Total Access. “Through the draft process, obviously at Arizona State, he didn’t play very well as a senior player. But when you watch some of the things he did on tape, he has the hips, the snap, he has the ability to play under and through blocks, and that’s what you’re looking for in a linebacker. We’re providing the opportunity for Vontaze. He’ll continue to get better. He’s changing his body physically from the body that played in the ’11 season at Arizona State. He’s a much lighter player now again, and I’m pleased with what he did last week in our rookie camp. I want to see him continue to get better and it’ll be fun next week when we get the full team out here in OTAs.”

Lewis didn’t seem to appreciate a question about whether the Bengals overlook character issues with players, saying that there’s nothing wrong with giving a shot to a young man who will try to prove himself worthy of making the team.

“We didn’t pick him,” Lewis said. “We signed him after the draft as a college free agent. There’s been a lot of players picked by a lot of teams that have had a very checkered past. This is all about Vontaze’s future and not what he’s done in the past.”

Burfict still has an uphill climb to make the Bengals’ roster, just as every undrafted free agent does. But Lewis is excited to give him the chance.