Oct. 14, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Bills defeated the Cardinals 19-16 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
While Kirkpatrick has had some bad plays, overall he has gotten better with more snaps. Morris Claiborne and Stephon Gilmore both struggled early in their rookie year; as does any rookie corner. Missing last year and some practices and training camps, Kirkpatrick had to quickly pick up the pace.
As of lately, he has been showing a lot of potential. He recorded a sack against the Cleveland Browns and when he is sent on a blitz he has helped make the quarterback throw quicker than he should. He also helped shut down Jordan Cameron as he stayed on him for most of the game, helping limit him to only 28 yards.
Kirkpatrick also played very well against Antonio Gates, helping give up only 5 receptions for 41 yards and also pulled away the football for his first interception. He also tipped a punt back into the field of play to give the Chargers the ball on their own 4 yard line.
With more and more snaps, it appears Kirkpatrick is becoming comfortable in this system and improving overall in his game, both on special teams and on defense. On Sunday night, he has a chance to have a statement game against the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger is a tough competitor and will definitely not be afraid to lean on the pass as the Steelers rank 31st in rushing yards. Kirkpatrick will be seeing the likes of Antonio Browns and Emmanuel Sanders, both of which that have over 600 yards. This will not be an easy task for any Bengal player, but Kirkpatrick must limit his mistakes and stay on his man and look back for the ball.
Kirkpatrick must improve on his ball skills and turning his head to locate the ball. If he can do that, he has the potential to be a very special player for the Bengals for years to come.
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