Rookie Reaction: LB Rey Maualuga

Former USC linebacker Rey Maualuga is busy preparing for his new pro career with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he replied to a few questions via email to's Ed Thompson.

Ed Thompson: When the call came from Cincinnati, who did you talk to and what did they say?

Rey Maualuga: I talked to Coach Lewis and he said, 'you are about to be a Cincinnati Bengal.' I was so excited. My dream has finally come true to play in the NFL. I also talked to the defensive coordinator, Coach Zimmer, and he said he loves the way I approach the game.

Thompson: Did they tell you where you fit into their team's plans?

Maualuga: I am a versatile player and will play where ever Coach Lewis and Coach Zimmer want me to play. I just want to contribute, it doesn't matter to me, whatever position that gets me on the field the fastest. I'm going to go there and compete for the job. Just line me up, tell me what to do and I will go and do it.

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Thompson: How much contact did you have with the team prior to getting their call (Combine formal interview, workout or visit)?

Maualuga:  I didn't hear much from the Bengals leading up to the Draft, but I'm happy to be on a team on the rise and to play for a defensive-minded coach.

Thompson: Do you know anyone on your new team really well?

Maualuga: Yes, there are three players on my new team from USC, Carson Palmer, Keith Rivers and Frostee Rucker. I also know Domata Peko and Jonathan Fanene. Maurice Purify is from my high school, Eureka High School in Eureka, CA. It's a small town, so it's pretty cool that we both got picked by Cincinnati.

Thompson: What veterans on the team are you excited about working with and learning from?

Maualuga: I'm obviously really looking forward to playing with Keith Rivers. He comes back to USC to work out from time to time, and I know he is a great player. I also know Dhani Jones has played for a long time and is a great veteran. Carson Palmer is a great leader and I can't wait to be with him every day.

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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Or contact him by email through this link.

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