CB Kirkpatrick gets bigger role with Bengals
CINCINNATI -- Dre Kirkpatrick is getting his chance to show that he was worth a first-round pick.
The Bengals need help at cornerback with Leon Hall sidelined by another Achilles tendon injury. They're counting on Kirkpatrick, who has missed much of his first two seasons with injuries. Now, it's his chance.
"I feel like I have been ready," Kirkpatrick said. "I am not going to broadcast it or get pouty about it. I am just going to continue to work, continue to practice and just go every day like it's my last day out there."
The 2012 17th overall pick from Alabama hasn't been on the defense very much.
He missed most of his rookie season with knee injuries and a concussion that limited him to five games. With the knee fully recovered, he made impressive plays during training camp, an indication he was ready to start playing a part in one of the league's best defenses.
With Hall, Terence Newman and Adam "Pacman" Jones established as the top three cornerbacks, Kirkpatrick was still limited mostly to special teams when the season started. He missed two games with a hamstring injury.
Kirkpatrick got in for nine plays on defense during a win at Buffalo two weeks ago and had a season-high 10 plays during a 27-24 victory in Detroit, where Hall severely injured his right Achilles tendon.
Kirkpatrick would cover top receivers at Alabama. The Bengals have used him more as an extra cornerback covering receivers in the slot, something he'd never done until he got to the NFL. The Bengals have to decide how they're going to reconfigure their secondary -- safety Chris Crocker also can play as an extra cornerback.
The Bengals (5-2) play the New York Jets (4-3) on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
"I think we'll be all right," Jones said. "Of course we'll miss Leon. He made a whole bunch of plays, so there's no way you replace that guy. But there's a lot of guys in here that are just ready to step up."
Kirkpatrick had an especially tough time during a preseason game against Dallas that has stuck with him. He's gone back and reviewed the video on several occasions to remind himself what happens when he doesn't do everything correctly in coverage.
"It was one of those games and one of those days that lots of great players have," said Kirkpatrick, who repeatedly gave up completions. "You've got to continue to work through it and improve every day. I learned my lesson. I look at my notes and continue to still watch that game.
"I know what a butt-whipping feels like, and I don't want that feeling no more."
Calvin Johnson, the league's top receiver, caught a 27-yard touchdown pass with Kirkpatrick in coverage Sunday, but there wasn't much any cornerback could do to stop it.
"He played good this week when he had to come in the fire," Jones said. "The one catch Calvin caught, he had perfect coverage on him. He came in and played the nickel (defense) real good for his first time coming in. As long as he's playing with confidence, he'll be all right."
Defensive backs coach Mark Carrier said Kirkpatrick has improved a lot since that bad game in Dallas.
"Leaps and bounds better," Carrier said. "And it's ironic because after that situation in Dallas, one of the first persons to go up to him and share some things with him was Leon Hall. He kind of let him know about his tough day he had back when he first came into the league. He said you can learn from it and get better from it, and I think Dre did."
Given his limited time on the field last season, Kirkpatrick is still a rookie in terms of on-field experience. Carrier has watched him improve in practice as this season goes along.
"He'll be the first one to tell you: When he's healthy, he can go out there and play (well)," Carrier said. "Everyone's time comes, and he knew his time was coming soon."
DE Wallace Gilberry (knee) and WR Marvin Jones (shoulder) were held out of practice Thursday. Jones landed hard on his left shoulder while making a touchdown catch in Detroit. ... CB Terence Newman (ankle) and MLB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) were limited in practice.
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Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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