Brandon Joiner's story is well-known among most Bengals fans. Sentenced to three years in prison last year for aggravated robbery and felony drug possession from 2007, Joiner was released in January and the Cincinnati Bengals, who had signed him as college free agent following the 2012 NFL draft, placed him on the offseason roster.
Now he's being given an opportunity to show coaches what he can do.
When asked about Joiner following the team's second practice during Friday's rookie minicamp session, head coach Marvin Lewis expresses a quality impression with Joiner's work ethic, especially for a guy changing positions from college.
"Brandon’s been around with our guys a little bit here, so that’s been good," said Lewis. "He’s making a big conversion from a guy who played small college football as a defensive end. He works his tail off. It’s starting over, basically," Lewis continued. "It’s like any other rookie. He’s really starting over. Basically he had three days last year. That was it."
When asked about the team's decision to keep Joiner's rights in the NFL while he was imprisoned, Lewis deflected the question.
"It’s not that necessarily that we saw anything, we just felt like unfortunately for whatever reason he was…well we should probably quit talking about Brandon because he’s already done what he’s needed to do, and that’s it."
"We drafted ten guys, and we’ve got a lot of other guys here," Lewis said when pressed about Joiner following the linebacker's release from prison.
Prior to the team signing James Harrison last month, Joiner figured prominently in a training camp battle with Aaron Maybin and Dontay Moch at strong-side linebacker. Now with Harrison, you have to figure that only one of those three make it. That being said, Joiner could be a strong practice squad candidate.