The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams will play in Super Bowl LVI Feb. 13. Here are some local connections to watch for in the game (in alphabetical order):

Rams Linebacker Antoine Brooks Jr.

A native of Lanham, Md., and graduate of DuVal High School, Brooks played for Maryland from 2016-2019. Then a defensive back, Brooks played a total of 42 games during his four years for the Terps, posting 231 tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Brooks was drafted by Pittsburgh in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft and played in four games that season. He was cut prior to the 2021 season, but he signed with the Rams’ practice squad shortly after that. Brooks has bounced between the practice squad and active roster this year. He played in eight regular-season games and the Rams’ postseason wins against Arizona and Tampa Bay. He contributes on special teams for Los Angeles.

Rams Cornerback Blake Countess

A native of Owings Mills, Md., Countess graduated from Good Counsel before playing his college ball at Michigan and later Auburn. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 draft by Philadelphia but was cut before the regular season. After that, Countess hooked on with the Rams and played for Los Angeles from 2016-2018. He’s bounced around the league since then (including a one-month stint with the Ravens’ practice squad this past December), eventually signing with the Rams’ practice squad last month. Countess has contributed on special teams during each of Los Angeles’ three playoff victories.

Bengals Senior Defensive Assistant Mark Duffner

A senior defensive assistant for the Bengals for the past three seasons, Duffner has been coaching for more than 45 years. Along the way, he was the head coach at Maryland from 1992-1996. Duffner went 20-35 with the Terps and coached some familiar names, including Jermaine Lewis, Scott Milanovich, Kevin Plank and Frank Wycheck.

Rams Running Back Jake Funk

A native of Gaithersburg, Md., and graduate of Damascus, Funk played for Maryland from 2016-2020 and overcame a number of challenges to be drafted by the Rams in the seventh round of the 2021 draft. Funk suffered a torn ACL during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, limiting him to three games in both campaigns. However, he bounced back with an explosive fifth year in College Park, running for 516 yards and three touchdowns on just 60 carries in four games during the shortened 2020 season. He also caught 10 passes for 68 yards and a score. He declared the draft, caught the attention of the Rams on the NFL Network and got a chance in Los Angeles. An October hamstring injury was thought to be season-ending, but Funk returned in December and got a chance to play in Baltimore in Week 17. He has played mostly special teams this year.

Rams Right Tackle Rob Havenstein

A native of Mount Airy, Md., Havenstein played his high school ball at Linganore before attending Wisconsin. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft, Havenstein has been a durable, reliable presence along the Rams’ offensive line, starting 99 regular-season games during his seven years. Havenstein signed a four-year, $32.5 million contract with $9 million guaranteed in 2018, which ties him to Los Angeles through the 2022 season. He’ll have his hands full in the Super Bowl dealing with the Bengals’ talented pass rushers.

Bengals Linebacker Keandre Jones

A native of Olney, Md., and graduate of Good Counsel, Jones spent his first three seasons at Ohio State prior to transferring to Maryland for his senior season in 2019. He racked up 74 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during his one season as a Terp. Jones signed with the Bengals’ practice squad in September 2020, then signed a futures deal after the season. He spent most of the 2021 season on the practice squad but was signed to the active roster in December. Jones has played in just seven regular-season games the past two years for Cincinnati, but he has been in the fold for all three of the Bengals’ playoff games so far. He contributes on special teams for Cincinnati.

Bengals Nose Tackle Zach Kerr

A native of Gaithersburg, Md., and graduate of Quince Orchard, Kerr played for Maryland from 2009-2010 before transferring to Delaware, where he earned second-team All-CAA honors in 2012. He signed with Indianapolis as an undrafted free agent and played for the Colts from 2014-2016. He has bounced around since then, spending time with Denver (2017-2018), Arizona (2019) and Carolina (2020) before splitting time between San Francisco, Arizona and Cincinnati this year. The Bengals signed Kerr off the Cardinals’ practice squad Jan. 19, just in time for him to play in the divisional-round matchup against Tennessee and the conference championship game against Kansas City. He has posted 173 tackles and 9.5 sacks during an eight-year career.

Bengals Right Tackle Isaiah Prince

A native of Greenbelt, Md., and graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Prince played for Ohio State from 2015-2018 before being drafted by Miami in the sixth round of the 2019 draft. He played in four games for the Dolphins in 2019 and was waived in December of that year. The Bengals claimed Prince, who didn’t play the rest of that season. He opted out of the 2020 season but returned for 2021. Prince has started each of the Bengals’ last six games, including all three playoff games at right tackle. He will be tasked with keeping Joe Burrow clean against a formidable Rams front.

Rams Safety Eric Weddle

Weddle, 37, played for the Ravens from 2016-2018 before finishing his career with one year with the Rams … or so it seemed. Weddle came out of retirement in January to help out the Rams during the playoffs following Week 18 injuries to safety Jordan Fuller (ankle) and Taylor Rapp (concussion). Fuller’s injury was season-ending, while Rapp is hopeful he’ll be able to play in the Super Bowl. Weddle and Nick Scott have handled things on the back end during three playoff games for the Rams, who will be tasked with slowing down the Bengals’ explosive offense. Weddle, who was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Ravens, plans to return to retirement following the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Luke Jackson

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