Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, seen here tackling running back Giants running back Rashad Jennings last November 14 in a game at MetLife Stadium, has pleased team officials by working himself into excellent shape.
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Good sign for the Bengals: Burfict is leaner, but no less meaner

The Bengals will begin training camp Friday, but defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is already happy with Vontaze Burfict.

Guenther says the linebacker is healthy and may be in the best shape of his career.

Guenther told ESPN.com’s Katherine Terrell, “He's probably in the high 240s. He's played at 260, 265. He's moving good. I told him it'll add three years to your career if you stay at that level. He can be just as physical at 245, 250 as he can be at 265."

As word spreads about a leaner but no less meaner Burfict, fans are taking notice.

 As he enters the final year of his contract, Burfict carries a reputation for being an emotional player. Guenther believes he’s improved at controlling those emotions, and has a better grip on the game.

"I think he played a lot smarter and he backed off things,” said the defensive coordinator. “Teams maybe tried to prod at him a bit and he backed off. His emotional level was still high and I think guys feed off that a bit. You don't want a Mike linebacker who doesn't say anything. I thought he was a lot more professional, let's put it that way...

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