Tobin: 'Passionate' Burfict part of Bengals' success

INDIANAPOLIS -- Representing the Cincinnati Bengals at the NFL Scouting Combine, director of player personnel Duke Tobin stressed the importance of suspended linebackerVontaze Burfict to Cincinnati's 2016 fortunes.

Although Burfict and cornerback Adam Jones have come under fire for their actions that contributed to the Bengals' season-ending loss versus the Steelers, Tobin pointed out that the duo did "far more" over the course of the season and that game "to cause us to win than they did to cause us to lose."

Tobin echoed Burfict's recent acknowledgement that his style of play must change. The bottom line, though, is that the Bengals understand Burfict's value as a physical tone-setter and the backbone of their defense.

"This game is about passion and passionate players are the best players in the league," Tobin explained. "So we're not going to tell him not to be a passionate football player. That's what he is, that's what makes him good.

"Obviously there are some things maybe at the end of the plays and decisions he makes in a fraction of a second that he'll start to do a little differently. But he's an important part of what we do, and we're not going to restrict him to the point where he's ineffective."

Translation: Burfict has to maintain his intensity while ceasing his practice of aiming for receivers' heads before the whistle and mangling body parts after the whistle.

An affable and knowledgable Tobin comported himself well in his podium debut, but rejected the notion that his appearance represented a "sea change" in the organizational power structure.

Owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis are the "direction" of the club, Tobin insisted, while his job is to "facilitate their vision and plan."

"Marvin's still going to be out front. I'm not looking for that," Tobin continued. "I think he does a good job doing it, so he'll still be the focus and the voice of our football team. This is a scouting event, so it's a little more natural for somebody that does scouting to be up here talking."

It was natural to wonder if Tobin might be assuming more power in Cincinnati's front office after reportedly turning down requests to interview for the general-manager openings of the Lions and Titans in January.

After Thursday's news conference, though, it's evident that the Bengals' power structure will remain a nebulous collaborative effort.

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