Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has yet to walk into training camp without having something to deal with. Recovering from a knee injury during his rookie season in 2012, he missed training camp (and most of his first year). Last year, he showed up at camp without having the benefit of on-field work during OTAs that year.
This year, he's done it all. And Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has been satisfied with Kirkpatrick's growth.
"It’s high. Especially because of all the things I’ve been through, trying to get back to where I am now, so just hearing it from the man that’s making all the calls is a good thing," Kirkpatrick said via Bengals.com. Geoff Hobson wrote that "one insider said it was his best as a Bengal".
Kirkpatrick joins Terence Newman, who by most accounts, looks great, and Leon Hall, who is coming off an Achilles. Hall, Paul Dehner Jr. writes, looked comfortable during Thursday's practice.
Hall stopped, started and sprinted with ease and went through one of the most challenging tasks in all of football: running deep against A.J. Green. He produced every bit the explosion that's made him the Bengals' premier corner entering his eighth year and came away feeling healthy and happy about how his body reacted, outside of a pesky blister on his heel.
"I guess you could say I reached my goal but that was just part of it," Hall said via ESPN. "I'm still not all the way back yet. I'd still like to get out on the field, get the kinks out, if you will, get the rust off. It'll be nice."
The hope, beyond this year, is that Kirkpatrick will be paired with Dennard Darqueze as the team's future cornerback combination, much like Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall were -- what feels like ages ago. Hall, arguably one of the league's top slot cornerbacks, would find his best role as he enters the second half of his career.