Dre Kirkpatrick may have been the team's first-round draft pick, but he wasn't the only cornerback taken by the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2012 NFL draft. Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater was picked up by Cincinnati in the fifth round. Prater, however, injured his knee in early August and missed the entire season. Now he's looking to get back on the field to prove himself.
Prater is still driving the same car that got him through college, a Dodge Stratus with 80,000 miles on it, even though he signed a four-year, $2.285 million contract as a rookie last year. He's waiting to establish himself on the field, something he's hoping to do in 2013.
"I want to play and start and start accomplishing my goals before I even think about buying anything serious like a car," Prater says. "I have to start establishing myself before I do anything that drastic."
The Bengals are in need of cornerbacks. Both Adam Jones and Terence Newman are free agents and while the Bengals would like to bring them back, it's no guarantee that they'll be able to. Having young guys like Prater, along with Kirkpatrick, step up could go a long way to help the secondary.
Prater for one is tired of what he had to go through last season, which was a whole lot of nothing.
"Last year was miserable," he says. "I'd be done with meetings by noon and I was home walking my dog and playing Call of Duty. I'd be in the meetings and guys would say to me, 'What are you doing here? We're sick of looking at you.' "
Prater doesn't seem to be the kind of guy that likes to do nothing. He and his twin brother had dreams of working for the FBI or joining the military and living life on the edge. Prater said they both like to take risks because it makes them feel alive inside. When playing in the secondary, there are plenty of risks to take. Deciding when to jump a route or how to make a hit can result in a great play or a blown one.
Of course, a risk-taking cornerback isn't always a good thing. However, according to Geoff Hobson, Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis believe that Prater is a physical cornerback who can dole out punishment and fits best as a teams nickel corner, thought they believe he could play any position in the secondary.
Prater is completely healthy now and is looking to get back on the field. It's unclear at this point what kind of difference Prater can make on the field, but any positive difference would be a good one, no matter how small. Hopefully he can get a new car after the 2013 season.