The team's first-round pick excelled at Alabama, but entered the pros missing one important on-field skill.
"I never backpedaled," he told the Bengals' official site.
Kirkpatrick played a lot of press man coverage in a Cover 2 scheme under Nick Saban. He said he wasn't asked to sit back and read receivers on their routes. All of this has made his first offseason in Cincinnati an adventure.
"It didn't look pretty," Kirkpatrick said of his first three days of practice with the team. Coach Marvin Lewis and his defensive staff are impressed with Kirkpatrick's development, but he won't be rushed into action. The Bengals are knee-deep in defensive backs. Leon Hall and Nate Clements should be ready for training camp after dealing with injuries this spring. Terence Newman and rookie Brandon Ghee are in the fold. And don't forget about Pacman Jones.
It's not unusual for rookies to hit the pros with holes in their games. The team would rather coach Kirkpatrick in its scheme than shake out bad habits. It's been a long time since we've been able to say this -- because the Bengals are finally deep -- but the rookies on this team aren't being asked to save the day.