Hobson's Choice: Joseph the Un-Rookie

Q: I think that we should bring in Ahmed Plummer. He's a local guy and I think it could be a feel good story for a team that is having character problems, as little as it may be. (At least give him a heart check (see how dedicated he really is). Players get cut for whatever reason it may be sometimes, but I tell you one thing, it wasn't a character issue that got him off the team. Are YOU convinced it's a talent issue? Bengals show some hometown pride, don't let him go out like that.
**--Stop It, Fairfield, OH

STOP:** There has always been a lot of regard here for Plummer as a guy and player, but word is at age 30 and after six NFL seasons he's going to retire. Plus, first-round pick Johnathan Joseph left such a good impression after the camps that the Bengals are talking about how deep they are at cornerback instead of adding to the mix.

When it comes to the third corner, the Bengals really feel like they're going to get a better season out of Keiwan Ratliff in his third year because he doesn't have to worry about playing safety, too. Taking that cue, he arrived this spring down to his old college playing weight in the 180s.

Plus, Rashad Bauman, a fifth-year player, made some plays at this past weekend's minicamp that reminded them why he was the third corner down the stretch. And, really, except for a crucial missed tackle against the Bills on third-and-long, he is usually pretty solid.

But Joseph has shown he's the real deal. They're really impressed with how fast he is for a big man, a muscular 193-pounder who can still ring up a 4.3-second 40. They get a sense that once the pads come on, he's going to be a physical guy, too, because of that size.

He doesn't exactly act like a rookie, either. Call him the Un-Rookie. They also like his poise and demeanor out there. He has shown an ability not to get flustered, he's patient, and he doesn't try to jump a lot of routes.

Maybe if Joseph hadn't been as impressive, or someone got dinged, then maybe they would have pursued Plummer on a minimum deal, but there's too much of a crowd.

The issue with Plummer in San Francisco probably isn't so much talent but injury. Remember when the Bengals were interested in him in free agency in '04, but the Niners kept him with a five-year, $25 million deal?

Ever since then, Plummer hasn't been able to stay healthy. He played just six games in '04 and has grappled with injuries to the ankle, neck and shoulder.

When Plummer was on a conference call with the Cincinnati media before the Bengals beat the Niners at Paul Brown Stadium late in the 2003 season, he didn't hide his enthusiasm for the Bengals from his boyhood in an engaging interview. The kid from down the road at Wyoming High School and Ohio State has had a fine career, but, at the moment, it doesn't look like it ends here.

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