Despite missing nearly all of his rookie season, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has high hopes for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the upcoming season, and may have to count on him if the team doesn’t re-sign Terence Newman or Adam Jones:
I think he can play. I don’t know where, when or how yet. We have two free agents … I’d like to have them back but that doesn’t mean Kirkpatrick isn’t better than all of them. He could be the guy that’s playing.
Another cornerback who missed all of 2012 and is looking to make a name for himself is Shaun Prater, who showed flashes that he could be a pretty good nickel corner, but missed all last year when he injured his knee during training camp, but Zimmer is looking for him to contribute next year:
He did improve. He was having the best year that he had so we’ll see where it goes from there. He was having his best camp until he got hurt. We’ll see.
It’s easy to forget about defensive tackles Devon Still and Brandon Thompson, taken in the second and third rounds respectively, but sat on the bench for much of 2012. Thompson only played 23 snaps and Still was inactive every game once Pat Sims returned from the PUP list. Zimmer is looking for bigger contributions from them in 2013:
Thompson is getting better, Still is a really good athlete and has a lot of ability. There are a few things he has to work on to be a big-time player but he has the ability to if he wants to be.
Still looks to have the versatility to move to end on early downs, but Zimmer says, “he could but that’s not where he’s going to be. He (Still) should be a good three technique.