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Maturing Dre Kirkpatrick is starting to figure things out

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Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, believes that he's figured things out. Along with pressing hard during the offseason, he's making choices that he hopes lead to a starting gig.

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When the Cincinnati Bengals triggered the fifth-year option for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrickit was not unlike a one-year extension that will pay him $7.5 million in 2016. His story has been documented, beginning with a slow start and he has slowly matured into cornerback preparing for life as a starter in the NFL.

"For Dre, things didn’t quite bounce his way early on, with injuries and gaining full confidence, but he continued to fight his tail off and we saw the good results this past year," said head coach Marvin Lewis in a press release announcing the fifth-year extension. "We’re very excited about his future and how he’s attacked the offseason again."

With Terence Newman leaving for Minnesota, the Bengals will have an open competition for the starting cornerback spot opposite of Leon Hall. Adam Jones could factor into the competition (we believe he's best suited as a third cornerback who replaces Hall and becomes the slot corner) but the early belief is that it'll be between Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard -- two former first round picks that were acquired two years apart from each other.

In the three years (going on four) since Kirkpatrick was drafted, he believes that he has everything figured out.

"A lot of the going out had to stop," said Kirkpatrick via Bengals.com. "A lot of the staying up late had to stop. It’s pretty much putting everything in line. I feel like I did a great job. My trainer did a great job. My trainer is up here right now. We’re going to be doing a little extra work in the offseason before going into OTAs, do little extra work after practice some time.

"I want to be the best. I don’t want to just be a starting corner. I want to be the best. I want to be the No. 1 corner in the league and that’s what I thrive."

Meanwhile, cornerback Darqueze Dennard "smells blood in the water." Here's an idea, start Dennard AND Kirkpatrick, make Hall the third corner and transition Adam Jones into a full-time returner.

Early morning grind with the best @dptraining1 #NoGrindNoShine #NoDaysOff #NYC

A video posted by Dre Kirkpatrick (@drepic6) on