Since entering the NFL in 2012, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has had a career full of mixed results. Some view him as a starting corner, others see him as liability in pass coverage. Whatever the world views him as, Kirkpatrick knows that when he faces Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones on Sunday he must bring his “A” game.
“That stuff is personal this week,” Kirkpatrick said, via ESPN. “I already know it. They ain’t going to say it. For me. I played with [Mohamed Sanu, formerly of the Bengals], I played with Julio [at Alabama]. Calvin [Ridley] played at Bama. I know the buzz going around town there because that’s where we’re from. I already know I’ve got to have my sh-t together. It’s going to be real. I already know it.”
This meeting is testament of pride and will be a battle all four quarters. Jones and Kirkpatrick won a BCS national championship after the 2009 season, meaning they have plenty of history matching up against each other in practice. Both have a first-round pedigree and they were coached by the greatest coach in modern college football history, Nick Saban. Julio Jones is currently averaging 109 yards receiving a game and the Cincinnati cornerback will be assigned the task of covering the superstar receiver. Kirkpatrick isn’t worried about the critics, for him it’s just another opportunity to go out and compete.
“We never played against each other,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’ve been in the league seven years. I never had the opportunity to go against him for whatever reason. I’m looking forward to it.
The University of Alabama breeds a competitive spirit that carries on into the NFL. Dre Kirkpatrick and Julio Jones are concrete evidence of that. This will be a crucial match-up as the Bengals hope to improve to 3-1 and maintain their first-place lead in the AFC North. The Falcons are hoping to bounce back from a devastating overtime loss against New Orleans that dropped them to 1-2 on the season.