Raiders key matchup No. 1: Marcel Reece vs. Vontaze Burfict

November 25, 2012, 12:49 am
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Bengals matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at Paul Brown StadiumRaiders RB Marcel Reece vs. Bengals LB Vontaze BurfictTale of the tape
Reece (45): 6-foot-1, 255 pounds, fourth season, Washington
Burfict (55): 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, rookie season, Arizona StateCINCINNATI -- Surely there are no more questions about whether Marcel Reece, the street free agent who was a wide receiver in college, before being converted into a fullback and then showing he can play a mean tailback, can be an impact player in the NFL.Not after rushing for 103 yards, on 19 carries, and catching four passes for 93 yards, last week against New Orleans, right?"I knew he was a weapon and I didn't know exactly how he was going to fit, or how he was going to run, but he's done an outstanding job," admitted Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen. "As long as he continues to do the things he's doing, we're going to continue to give him opportunities."As the Raiders should. And with Reece a matchup nightmare, it only makes sense for the Bengals to put the ultra-athletic Vontaze Burfict on him. Burfict, like Reece, an undrafted college free agent, has stepped into the weakside linebacker role admirably for Thomas Howard, the former Raider who was lost for the season after Week 1 with a knee injury.RELATED: McFadden, Goodson, Seymour ruled out ... again
Burfict, whom teams stayed away from mostly because of image problems, has kept his nose relatively clean in Cincinnati. His 67 tackles rank fourth among NFL rookies and he also has a sack and two fumble recoveries. He had a monster game against Pittsburgh with 16 tackles. In fact, Burfict has registered double-digit tackles in five of his eight starts."Theyre a fast defense," said Reece, who was a mere seven receiving yards away from joining Marcus Allen as the only other Raiders player with triple digits in both rushing and receiving in the same game against the Saints."They have a lot of talent over there. Im not worried about what people say. I dont read too much what people say anyway. From what Ive seen on film, its going to be a challenge for us. Just get started early, and often."Which should mean feeding Reece just as earlyand often."You know what? Its not necessarily (about) being that guy," Reece said. We have so many playmakers on this team that no one's that guy. Darren McFaddens the bellcow for this team and will be the bellcow for this team. Right now were kind of playing running back by committee. When it really comes down to it, youre just trying to make plays the way youre supposed to make plays, whether its with the ball in your hands, whether its blocking or whether its helping someone else out. You just have to contribute."McFadden, though, is not able to contribute. His ankle injury is keeping him out of his third straight game, ensuring he will not play more than 13 gamesagain.Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, meanwhile, compared Reece to Jerome Bettis, with more speed."He's a unique type of player," Lewis told Cincinnati media this week."I remember seeing him on tape last year and calling up Hue and asking who that guy was and where he came from. But he does, he has some special ability."Reece, to his credit, brushes it all off."You just go out there, do your job to the best of your abilities, you fight for the guy thats to the left and to the right of you and behind you," Reece said. "No one man, no one group, is bigger than this team or the game of football. I just feel like as far as the numbers, none of that matters unless you get a 'W.'"I dont care if its number of touches, I dont care if its number of yards or lack thereof. If youre not winning, it doesnt matter. You have to win."