The 2015 campaign for Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is a big one. He battled injuries early in his career and with Marvin Lewis' penchant for relying on trusted veterans over youngsters with bigger upside, the former Alabama star hjas experienced limited playing time.
Still, when given chances, Kirkpatrick has made big plays. After Terence Newman was abused by Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning, Kirkpatrick mercifully took over and responded with two interceptions--one for a game-sealing score.
While the front office is mulling the right to exercise the fifth-year option on him, Kirkpatrick will have a bigger role on defense now that Newman has departed for Minnesota. He recently sat down with Sports Illustrated for a series of short video interviews on a variety of subjects. Here is the transcription.
SI: Any guys that you've seen over the last three years that you say, "Oh man--I've got to cover this guy today?"?
DK: I don't go into the game like that because if you go into the game like that, you're already defeated. But, guys that get me amped up, get me revved up, one for sure, because I face him twice a year, is Antonio Brown (Steelers wide receiver). You know, with my training, I have four guys I just look at and rotate. I look at Calvin (Johnson of the Detroit Lions), Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, and Julio Jones because those are some of the premiere receivers that I face. So, I train myself as if I'm playing against those guys.
SI: So, you're studying up against the best...who is the best you've faced?
DK: Um...They're all different. Those four guys I feel like are some of the best guys in the league, but they all have different schemes on how they attack the game.
SI: For a guy that has a certain mindset during the offseason, like you do, when you see some of these guys in the headlines, getting in trouble, do you just shake your head and say "What are they thinking? They're giving many other NFL players a bad name?"?
DK: I don't shake my head. I don't downplay them, I don't talk about them. I just say "they need to surround themselves around better people". Or, they need , based on the decisions that they're making--a lot of guys just act. They don't think about things before they act. I used to be one of those guys that used to act, but I had to hit a wall before I grew into the mindset that I am in today. So, sometimes people really need that type of adversity to get the best out of them.
SI: Quarterback Andy Dalton. So many questions. Is he the guy to take the Bengals to the next level?
DK: I feel like he is. I feel like he had a great year this year. Unfortunately, Marvin (Jones) and A.J. Green were hurt and his number one and number two tight ends were down going into the playoff game (versus the Colts), so it was kind of rough on his behalf because he's got to make throws to guys that he's not really familiar with. In certain times within the game, he didn't have his big-time wide receiver or big-time tight ends, so unfortunately, he was just put in a tough spot.