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Re-Swag

Posted May 12, 2012


Dre Kirkpatrick

This is why Mike Zimmer thinks Dre Kirkpatrick is going to be just fine:

His No. 1 pick, the highly-decorated cornerback from Alabama, had a tough first day in the pros on Friday when the Bengals opened their rookie minicamp with two practices. The self-proclaimed "Swag" swooned.

But Zimmer, the tough-love Bengals professor, gave him a homework assignment for Saturday and what Kirkpatrick handed back got high marks.

"I told him what to have fixed today and he was much better," Zimmer said after Saturday's first session. "He was much better today than he was yesterday."

Kirkpatrick's study hall turned out to be the hall outside his hotel room Friday night. He figures he was out there for a half hour going up and down the hallway with the technique and footwork Zimmer is demanding.

"He said I did a better job today at it and that's what I have to do to get it done," Kirkpatrick said. "It's not going to be something hard, but I've never done it before so it's going to be a challenge and I'm ready for the challenge."

The challenge is adapting his bump-and-run style with the off-coverage calls. Kirkpatrick is still going to get a heavy dose of that because that's what he does so well with his rangy, powerful 6-2, 186-pound frame that ties up receivers at the line.

The gurus think he's a good and tough physical corner, but they also wonder if he's fast enough and if his hips are fluid enough to survive in the open spaces. Zimmer says yes, Kirkpatrick is talented enough to do it.

"He likes to press and the things he has to get better at are his off-coverage and those are correctable things," Zimmer said. "If a guy understands technique, it's easy to do if he's in the right position. That's what we're trying to get him to understand. Where he's supposed to be. His speed doesn't worry me.

"He was better today than yesterday and that shows you something."

This is another reason the Bengals think Kirkpatrick going to be OK:

In Saturday afternoon's session he was lined up for an 11-on-11 snap in off coverage as confusion reigned. No, Zimmer barked at the linebackers as he yelled the proper call. They went at it again to get lined up and when it still wasn't right, Kirkpatrick chimed in with "Hold up, hold up," waved his arms and got them into the proper deal.

"He's a bright-eyed guy. He's ready to work. He wants to be good. He wants to be competitive. All things that are real good," Zimmer said.

There was an early frost warning for Bengaldom on Friday. "The Connecticut Comet," Kashif Moore, used his sub-4.4 40 to double move past Kirkpatrick for a long bomb. Armon Binns blew by him for another. Two college free agents aren't supposed to do that to your first-round pick, but Zimmer knows what day it was, too, and double moves bite even the best and most veteran of corners.

"That doesn't worry me yet," Zimmer said of Day One.

Kirkpatrick went right to the film room.

"My fault. Everything he did, it was my fault. It was nothing he did," Kirkpatrick said. "It was how I read my keys and get my feet in the right places. It's something I had to go in and correct."

Truth be told, it wasn't "Swag" on Friday, which is what he calls his brand of confidence and demeanor. It was a drag.

"I was a little shaky yesterday. Nervous. Today I came out relaxed," Kirkpatrick said. "Right now, what they don't put in so far, I pretty much know it. Taking the time to get into my playbook."

Shaky?

Nervous?

Here's one of the anchors of the national champions, the 17th player taken in the draft, and maybe the best run defender on one of college's greatest run defenses ever.

"That's the way of life," he said. "There is so much expectation for me. Everybody wants me to do so much. I felt better. I was just myself today."

Call it "Re-Swag."

Another reason the Bengals think he'll be just fine.

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