A 2013 season Pro Bowl selection, Burfict in ’15 made a strong return from a ’14 knee injury ... Began 2015 on Reserve/PUP list while continuing rehab of the injury, but rallied to start last 10 games, plus Wild Card playoff ... Brings Bengals a key physical element and exceptional instinctive football smarts, and made key plays in wins Dec. 20 at San Francisco and Jan. 3 vs. Baltimore ... Led team in tackles per game played (7.4) ... Led Bengals in tackles in each of his first two pro seasons (2012-13) ... In addition to 2013 season Pro Bowl nod, he was named to second-team Associated Press All-Pro spot.
Career transactions: Signed with Cincinnati as college free agent on 5-2-12 ... Signed contract extension with Bengals on 8-27-14.
Pro Bowl participation: Made Pro Bowl debut in the 2013 season contest, starting for victorious Team Rice ... Finished second on team in tackles (five) and intercepted an Andrew Luck pass at Team Sanders 27 in first quarter.
2015 general: Did not practice or play in preseason ... Placed Sept. 5 on Reserve/PUP list ... Rejoined practice Oct. 29, and was activated to roster on Oct. 31 ... Started Games 7-16, with 74 tackles (third on team), one sack, two INTs and five total passes defensed.
2015 highlights: Saw his first action since Game 7 of 2014 on Nov. 1 at Pittsburgh, logging five tackles after returning from a knee injury that had sidelined him for a calendar year ... Had solo tackles on Pittsburgh’s first two plays ... On Nov. 22 at Arizona, led team with eight tackles and had a QB hit ... Team-high eight tackles Dec. 6 at Cleveland ... On Dec. 13 vs. Pittsburgh, logged team-high and personal season-high 11 tackles, including one for loss ... All his tackles vs. Pittsburgh were solos, highest solo count in a game by a Bengal on the season ... On Dec. 20 at San Francisco, his 16-yard INT return to the 49ers 20 set up a second-quarter TD, and earlier in quarter, his 10-yard sack of Blaine Gabbert helped set up a short punt that led to a Bengals TD ... Had team-high three total passes defensed in the 49ers game ... Led team with 12 tackles (eight solo) on Jan. 3 vs. Baltimore and had his second INT of the season, diving catch at Ravens 33 in third quarter that set up TD that put Bengals ahead to stay at 14-9 ... In Wild Card playoff on 1-9-16 vs. Pittsburgh, he had a forced fumble in the second quarter, a 12-yard sack of QB Ben Roethlisberger in third quarter, and a potentially game-clinching INT against Landry Jones in the fourth quarter (Bengals surrendered that advantage by losing a fumble on the next play).
Previous seasons: 2012—Played in all 16 games as a rookie, and started last 14 after claiming starting WLB spot that was opened by an injury to Thomas Howard ... Also started Wild Card playoff game ... Led team in tackles (174) and had two fumble recoveries, one on defense and another on special teams ... Had team’s four highest game-totals in tackles ... Second on team in tackles-for-loss (eight) ... Credited with his first career start Sept. 23 at Washington (seven tackles) ... Logged first career sack on Sept. 30 at Jacksonville, with an 11-yarder against Blaine Gabbert ... Led team in tackles (12) in key win on Dec. 23 at Pittsburgh ... Team season-high 23 tackles, including 14 solos, on Dec. 30 vs. Baltimore ... Logged 10 tackles in Wild Card playoff on 1-5-13 at Houston. 2013—Started every game, with team-high 204 tackles, plus three sacks, an INT, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (one returned for TD) and 10 passes defensed (tied for front seven lead) ... Led team with eight tackles-for-loss ... Had wide lead over second-place tackler (MLB Rey Maualuga with 110) ... Led team in tackles 12 times, tied for lead twice, finished second once and tied for second once ... Had team’s four highest game-totals of the season in tackles, led by 18 on Nov. 17 vs. Cleveland ... Recorded team-high 11 tackles and 10-yard shoestring sack of Tom Brady Oct. 6 vs. New England ... Came into Dec. 1 game at San Diego rated questionable with an ankle injury, but still led team with 13 tackles, along with a pass defensed and two QB pressures ... Seven tackles, including a shared sack, in Wild Card playoff on 1-5-14 vs. San Diego. 2014—Campaign was derailed by injuries ... Missed time due to concussions, cervical strain and knee injury ... Placed Dec. 9 on Reserve/Injured list, part of continuing rehab from knee injury suffered Oct. 26 vs. Baltimore ... Started at WLB in Games 1-2 and 5-7 ... Inactive (concussion) for Games 3-4 and Games 8-13 (knee) ... For the season, logged 29 tackles (two for loss), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery two passes defensed and two QB hits ... On Sept. 7 at Baltimore, helped seal Bengals’ first-half dominance by forcing and recovering a Bernard Pierce fumble at Ravens’ 23, setting up FG for 15-0 lead.
No apprenticeship: Burfict in 2012 set a Bengals mark for most starts (14) in a rookie season by a player signed as a college free agent. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that since the 1970 merger, only two undrafted rookies had previously started as many as half of Cincinnati’s games — LB Armegis Spearman of Ole Miss (11 games in 2000) and OT Kevin Sargent of Eastern Washington (eight games in 1992).
College: Played three seasons at MLB for Arizona State (2009-11), seeing action in 37 games with 32 starts ... Totaled 228 career tackles, including 22.5 for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an INT ... Played in all 13 games in 2011, with 12 starts, and logged 69 tackles, including five sacks ... Reached semifinals consideration as a junior as a candidate for Butkus Award (top college LB) ... In sophomore season in 2010, led team with a career-best 90 tackles, and also had two forced fumbles ... Earned the starting MLB spot in the fourth game of his freshman season, logging 69 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries ... Named the 2009 Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year, and was selected to multiple Freshman All-America lists.
Personal: Hometown is Corona, Calif. ... Attended Centennial High School, rated a national prep power, and helped lead team to No. 2 national ranking as senior ... Prep All-American, and one of most highly-rated prospects in the country as senior ... Majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at Arizona State, with emphasis in criminal justice and sociology ... Enjoys golf ... First name is pronounced “VONN-tez” and last name is pronounced “BER-fict” (rhymes with “perfect”).
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict ended up on the winning team Sunday in his first Pro Bowl when his early interception helped Team Rice to a 22-21 victory in Honolulu.
If you want to know where the Bengals get this new brew of take-no-prisoners resiliency, you can find it in all corners of the locker room.