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Bengals LB Brandon Joiner Will Compete For Strong-Side Linebacker Position

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Bengals linebacker Brandon Joiner is out of prison and already training to get ready for the 2013 season.

Brandon Joiner is a name that Bengals fans have to start remembering. Not that it's anyone's fault.

Joiner was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent hours following the 2012 NFL draft. Joiner ran a 4.84 during his March 27, 2012 Pro Day and named the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, leading the league with 12 quarterback sacks. Joiner, who generated at least a partial sack in 10 of 12 games during his final collegiate season, was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference First-Team, ranked second in the league with an average 1.29 tackles-for-loss per game.

Unfortunately he was placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list, one month after being sentenced to three years in prison with multiple counts of aggravated robbery and felony drug possession. Eventually he was paroled in November but wasn't released until mid-January.

And as Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, he's already training.

At a time when some teams would have released Joiner, the Bengals elected to stand by him and held on to his rights. He was placed on the reserve-did not report list, which meant his contract remained in limbo. He is expected to be removed from that list soon.

“It means so much. It’s one of those things that you can’t help but say thank you when people give you the opportunity,” Joiner said. “I was able to see a couple of the games and just know that that was my team. It’s a job, but it makes it more personal to know that you are part of the family.”

Even with Joiner locked up, the Bengals decided to retain his rights, impressed enough of his progress in the five years since committing those crimes as an 18-year old. Linebacker Paul Guenther even wrote letters of encouragement, along with phone calls.

When Joiner returns to the team around April for offseason practices, he figures to be competiting for a wide-open competition at strong-side linebacker, where recently signed Aaron Maybin was told he'd play. That doesn't matter though. Joiner is beyond appreciative of the opportunity the Cincinnati Bengals are giving him, even through the adversity of his young life.

“It means so much. It’s one of those things that you can’t help but say thank you when people give you the opportunity,” Joiner said. “I was able to see a couple of the games and just know that that was my team. It’s a job, but it makes it more personal to know that you are part of the family.”