Dre Kirkpatrick (27) is hoping to get unleashed for the first time this preseason.
The sense is the Bengals are going to unveil some key parts for the first and only time this preseason Sunday (4:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) against coach Jay Gruden and company in Washington. Guys that have practiced but haven't played in a game yet for precautionary reasons like cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hand), running back Giovani Bernard (knee), safety George Iloka (knee) and rookie wide receiver John Ross (shoulder).
It is, after all, the pre-season game everyone refers to as "the dress rehearsal."
And everyone wants to see the stage debut of Ross on this national TV show. Even six-year veterans like Kirkpatrick.
"I'm excited just to see him full go at practice, just because he's going to bring something different," Kirkpatrick said before Wednesday's practice. "He's pretty much the only thing that we're missing, someone who can stretch the other side of the field, because when you look at our guys they're all kind of similar. When you look at him there's a difference and the difference is his speed. I look at that guy is he's going to be a big major key. "
But head coach Marvin Lewis says he's waiting to hear from the doctors if these guys can go. Even if he's already been told he probably wouldn't dole out his lineup, anyway. But he did admit in Wednesday's news conference that it's not going to matter a whole heck of a lot come the first quarter against the Ravens on Opening Day.
"It's important for guys to have an opportunity to play, but if they don't, they don't," Lewis said. "After three or four plays, it isn't going to matter anyway."
Kirkpatrick is calmly looking at his third straight Opening Day start and he'd like to get the work to get out some of the kinks before Baltimore on Sept. 10.
"At the end of the day practice everyone is 100 miles per hour, and the quarterback has all the time in the world and guys are still running their routes," Kirkpatrick said. "In the regular season the game kind of slows down, guys are trying to time their routes, where they want to come out or give you a shake at the line. For the most part you want to be dialed into those game situations because you can be too fast in your pedal, you can over-lunge and it's just all about getting those jitters out.
"My thing about preseason is I think it's cool. You get to still have the evaluation of the guys that you need p if they're not a starter to come around to help out so I feel like that's a bonus, but you still have to battle taking a risk of getting hurt. I still think there's some value to preseason."
Kirkpatrick broke his hand in what he called "a freak," off-field accident in May and while he's been flying around in training camp, he's been under instructions to take it easy. Now he says he's been cleared but he doesn't know if he's going to play.
After the team meeting broke, the guys had a minute to check out the Solar Eclipse from Paul Brown Stadium.
"Last week I put my hand out there and took a risk, challenging it and challenging myself. I'm just ready to crank it back up," Kirkpatrick said. "The first week of practice I had a good practice, but they turned me down a little bit and told me I still wasn't able to do certain things. Last week I was able to get back out there and really kind of full go and this week I'm trying to carry on … No, no concern. At the end of the day if they say I can go out there I'm going to still try to go out there with 100 percent effort and not thinking about my hand and just going out there and playing ball."
For the bulk of the seven-year A.J. Green-Andy Dalton empire, Lewis has chosen to ice his starters for the pre-season finale, which occurs just four days after Washington in Indianapolis on Aug. 31. So Sunday is probably it. Dalton is trying not to make it too big of a deal, but he knows the first unit has yet to score a touchdown and they'll have a few more plays with which to work designed for the opponent.
"For sure. We want to play well in all of them. In this one we're playing a little bit more. We've got a normal game plan week," Dalton said. "You want to go out and put it all together and score touchdowns."
As the Bengals deployed Wednesday, they look fairly healthy everywhere but linebacker and safety. Back-up rookie linebackers Hardy Nickerson (back) and Brandon Bell (unknown) were sitting out with injuries and there was no sign of starting middle linebacker Kevin Minter. Starting safety Shawn Williams (elbow) is expected to be out a month and surfaced with a brace for the dislocation, but Iloka was on the field Monday.
Cincinnati Ben-Gal Cheerleaders perform during the Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals game 8/19/2017 *Photos taken by Steve France