Vontaze Burfict will start for Bengals

Vontaze Burfict went from being one of the top defensive prospects to going undrafted this year. Now, after getting himself back on track with the Bengals, he is going to make his first start two weeks into his NFL career.

Burfict will start at outside linebacker for Thomas Howard, who tore his ACL last week and is out for the season. This is a surprise when you consider how his stock fell this spring. But this lineup move was expected because Burfict told reporters Friday that he would start.

He fell from a potential first-round pick to an undrafted rookie free agent after he gained weight, demonstrated an attitude and flopped at the NFL scouting combine.

Since he joined the Bengals, Burfict shed weight and made several plays in the preseason and training camp. The coaches have been impressed with his football instincts.

When I spoke to coach Marvin Lewis in mid-August, he projected Burfict to be a future starter in the league. It has just happened sooner than expected.