Bengals needed Thurman 

July, 26, 2007
07/26/07
4:45
PM ET
Odell Thurman was denied reinstatement to the league on Thursday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and will miss the entire 2007 season. Early in the process, the Bengals seemed prepared to move on without their former second-round pick, but lately, the perception was that Cincinnati would have welcomed back Thurman, right or wrong.

The team's leading tackler in 2005 as a rookie, Thurman has a big-play flair the Bengals could have used this season. He isn't the most disciplined player and will make mental errors, but he is a heat-seeking missile with rare explosiveness. Thurman is a striker who runs through ball carriers and usually is around the football, and he would have aided the team. So who does that leave in the Cincinnati linebacker corps heading into the season?

Edgerton Hartwell
Hartwell
Ahmad Brooks emerged in the middle of last season as a rookie and is an impressive physical specimen who should be even better in his second season in the league. He has uncommon size and strength for a middle linebacker, something that should help a Bengals defense that recently has struggled against the run, especially between the tackles. Brooks carries his own baggage related to off-field issues and entered the league through the supplemental draft, but if he can keep his nose clean and remain dedicated to the game, his first full offseason should be a big benefit to him and the team.

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