Rivers needs to learn fast

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Cincinnati Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers will finally join the team Wednesday after 10 days and 12 missed practices. He signed a six-year deal with the team late Tuesday night.

Coming from USC and being tutored by position coach and former NFL linebacker Ken Norton Jr., Rivers joined Cincinnati as one of the most NFL-ready players in the draft this year.

Now is his chance to prove it.

Rivers was a lock to start at outside linebacker leading up to his holdout but fell behind significantly. The good news is if Rivers proves to be a quick study -- as advertised -- he still has a chance to be a starter in Week 1.

Rivers was a standout in spring workouts. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer liked what he saw from his prized rookie from the first practice.

For now, Brandon Johnson is the starter and likely will take that mantel into the first preseason game. But eventually Rivers' talent and status as the No. 9 overall pick will be too much to keep him out of the starting lineup.