Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told reporters on Monday that the team doesn't need to sign someone immediately to replace cornerback Leon Hall; the context was lost that they wouldn't at all (why twitter is wrecking lives and bloating unnecessary egos). Lewis clearly favors the in-house solutions instead of making a move (free agent signing or trade) in direct response to losing Hall.
In other words, it's the next-man-up philosophy.
However, at some point during Monday's presser, Lewis felt that it was time to start the dial on the motivating Kirkpatrick tour.
"No, we don’t have to look for anybody," Lewis said. "We have a couple of guys that have to step up and play now. They've been sitting here on scholarship for a bit, now it’s time for them to go. The three hots in the cot, now it’s time to pay for play, let’s go."
There's no negative here; just hard cold reality and the hope that it finds the targeted ears with the proper context. Essentially Lewis is saying that they've been given enough time (three hot meals and a bed) and now it's time to earn their keep. And I believe the message was intended primarily for Kirkpatrick. Since being selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, Kirkpatrick has played only ten games out of a possible 24 (including the wild card loss) due to a problematic knee and a concussion.
This wouldn't be the first time that Lewis used the media to motivate his players. Last year, Lewis singled out Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.
"We've wallowed around here in mediocrity. Let's go," Lewis said last year on Oct. 31. "We're looking for our quarterback and our middle linebacker to take hold of our football team."
And it worked.
The Bengals won seven of their next nine and Dalton responded with a stretch of three games where he threw nine touchdowns and no interceptions during blowout wins against the Giants, Chiefs and Raiders.
"As a rookie, you come in and you are meeting new people," said Dalton after hearing Lewis' comments last year. "Now, second year, it is your offense. It is your team. That is how I've got to treat it. He just wants some fire out there, making sure we are perfect in practice in everything we are doing. I am not too worried about what he said. It's just he expects a lot out of us."
Now it's on Kirkpatrick.