The Bengals are banking on the depth bailing them out of this one better than when Hall ripped the other Achilles, the left, on 2011 season. That’s when Newman was still in Dallas, Kirkpatrick was at Alabama, and Jones was trying to get healthy in just his second year in with the team.
Kirkpatrick played just 10 snaps Sunday as veteran safety Chris Crocker took the majority of the work in Hall’s absence, particularly in nickel. Crocker went from playing three snaps in Buffalo to 67 on Sunday. Kirkpatrick, who only played the outside at Alabama, had to play in the slot a few times Sunday because the Lions use a spread, a formation the Bengals won’t see all that much. Crocker figures to be in the slot most of the time between Newman and Jones.
But Kirkpatrick, wriggled by injuries for his entire pro career until the past month, is the next man up and is learning and playing the slot just in case. The Bengals would also like to use Brandon Ghee, a 2010 third round pick who has played fewer snaps than Kirkpatrick.
The coaches like the 6-2 Kirkpatrick’s length on both the outside and the inside and they’re encouraged about how he stuck his nose in there against the all pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The 6-5, 240-pound Johnson still scored on Kirkpatrick on Sunday on a 27-yard play even though Kirkpatrick was all over him. Minutes later Johnson pulled down a jump ball out of three Bengals.
Adam “Pacman” Jones is among those who believe that now is the time for Cincinnati’s youngest secondary standouts, like Kirkpatrick, to step up and become even greater contributors than they have already been. By most accounts, since his horrific preseason game at Dallas, two months ago, Kirkpatrick has done just that. So now he’s gonna get his chance to prove his 1st round talent potential.