Why Vincent Rey's voice is often all that's heard at Bengals practice

Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey says he aims to have the defense "on the same page" every time the unit is on the field. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

CINCINNATI -- If you live around the Queen City and had a chance to visit the Cincinnati Bengals' practices during training camp, odds are you heard Vincent Rey's booming voice command the practice fields.

It's hard not to notice it.

For example, you may have heard something that sounded like "Apple! Apple! Apple! Bright lime! Bright lime!" in a loud shout that was delivered in an unmistakable cadence at the top of the baritone register. (The actual words used for whatever the line checks or audible calls were have been substituted here.)

Often during full-team, 11-on-11 drills, the linebacker's unintentionally rhythmic yet excited exclamations were all that could be heard throughout the open-air space.

"The guy making the call is the bus driver," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. "If he puts his hands off the wheel, the whole bus goes. So it's an important thing for us to have a guy like that."

Bus driver may not be the non-football educational occupation most Bengals fans immediately associate with Rey. His occasional bespectacled, clean-cut attire makes the Duke product look more like a professor. Only in his classroom, regardless whether the on-field behavior from his teammates is worthy of praise or biting criticism, he talks with extraordinary volume.

"For myself, when I'm out there and he's out there with me, it gives me confidence," outside linebacker Chris Carter said. "He's a knowledgeable dude. He knows what everybody's got going on. When you've got a guy out there that you can refer to if you've got any questions, you know it's like having another coach on the field."

Rey isn't the only linebacker charged with making pre-snap calls, and he isn't the only one whose voice gets loud. But few of Cincinnati's other defensive playcallers relay changes and adjustments in the attention-getting way Rey does.

"If a guy's making a couple of calls and checks you don't want him whispering out there since it's 80,000 people in the stadium," Guenther said. "So he's got to be demonstrative and direct traffic."

Last season, primarily playing in relief of oft-injured Will linebacker Vontaze Burfict, Rey came off the bench and led the Bengals in tackles with 121.

Special teams is where Rey made a name for himself, becoming a star on various coverage teams his first three seasons before playing a more active role on defense in the past two. A fill-in for multiple starting linebackers, he has played every spot in the three-position group.

Asked about his commanding on-field persona, Rey chuckled. Away from the playing surface he has a quieter, more reserved makeup. So what's different between the white lines?

"I take my job serious. This is important to me," Rey said. "I feel this is how I honor God. It's very important to me. I'm not just working for [head coach] Marvin Lewis or Paul Guenther or [linebackers coach] Matt Burke, I'm working for God. So I want to make sure everything is done with excellence."

Rey's order-barking serves other purposes, too.

"I may not be the fastest, strongest, biggest guy, but it's just making sure that everybody's on the same page," Rey said. "Everything before the snap, if everything's 100 percent, then I have a chance. That's how I see it. I just want everybody to be on the same page. I don't want it to be my fault. I don't want to be the reason why we're not winning that snap, we're not competing well.

"Everyone has a job, and everyone's counting on me to do my job. That's why I'm loud as heck out there."