The way we hear it, Rey Maualuga has shown improvement in his first season as the Bengals' starting middle linebacker, and the club believes he can continue to progress. Maualuga, 24, is at his best playing the run, and his physicality and instincts are his strengths. He's also said to have made strides as a leader, and he has improved his mental approach to the game. Maualuga was the Bengals' starter on the strong side for his first two seasons, but middle linebacker, where he starred at USC, is his regarded as his best position. Maualuga missed three games earlier this season with a high ankle sprain, setting back his progress, we're told, but he nonetheless set a career-high in tackles (88) in 13 starts in the middle. Continued development will be key for Maualuga, the way we hear it, as he could stand to become stronger vs. the pass and become a better blitzer.