Old friend Johnathan Joseph returns to Paul Brown Stadium Monday (8:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5 and ESPN) with the Texans as a 31-year-old 10-year cornerback that answers to the phrase "savvy veteran."
That's what Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones calls him.
"He's a crafty vet. You can tell he's been around the league awhile," Jones said. "He tries not to give up the big play. He's a solid player."
Joseph no doubt draws Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green with rookie Kevin Johnson getting the start on the other side in wake of the Texans ruling out Kareem Jackson. Houston is loving the play of Johnson, their first-round pick out of Wake Forest.
So, like the Bengals, the Texans line up a pair of first-rounders on the corner, since Joseph became the first cornerback drafted in the first round by the Bengals ever in 2006.
The big stat? Since he got drafted, he leads the NFL with 138 passes defensed.
"He's got incredible physical tools as he did coming out,' said head coach Marvin Lewis after Friday's walk-through. "He continues to keep himself in great shape."
Joseph played just one year of major college ball, but he was good enough that the Bengals have drafted three more cornerbacks in the first round since then and have made the position a cornerstone.
"It's a position we value greatly," Lewis said. "He just had incredible skills and he grew up as a young man and embraced being a pro."
Green went off against Houston last season with 12 catches for 121 yards in the 22-13 win, but only two for 14 yards came against Joseph, according to profootballfocus.com. The rookie Johnson is actually ranked higher than Joseph in PFF's ratings, 41-45, and the Bengals have two corners ranked higher with Adam Jones rated fifth and slot corner Leon Hall at No. 21.
SMITH OUT: As expected, the Bengals ruled out right tackle Andre Smith (concussion) for the second straight game, giving former Texan Eric Winston the start. Although he was limited all week, WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (knee) was probable. So was right guard Kevin Zeitler after he went full in Thursday's last full-scale practice.
The Bengals are intrigued by the prospect of lining up Burfict and middle backer Rey Maualuga for the first time in ages. Maualuga is probable after going full all week.
When Burfict returned Nov. 1 against Pittsburgh, Maualuga (calf) got hurt on the first play. Maualuga was hurt and inactive in the game that Burfict suffered a season-ending knee injury last year against Baltimore. And in the game before that, Burfict was sidelined early with a cervical strain. So it's the first time since Oct. 12, 2014 they could possibly play an entire game together.
WEATHER CHECK: The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is calling for a game-time temperature of about 50 degrees under mostly cloudy skies and winds out of the southwest at about seven miles per hour. There is a 40-percent chance of showers in the second half.