Dre Kirkpatrick loves football.
The Bengals' veteran cornerback is seemingly always in the middle of whatever conversation is going on, either on the sideline or in the locker room. On Thursday, Kirkpatrick showcased that while he can talk a good game, he can back it up too.
Kirkpatrick made several big plays, including two pass deflections and a forced incompletion during the Bengals' red zone drills at training camp. The one that drew the most cheers came when Kirkpatrick knocked a ball away from receiver Tyler Boyd in the back corner of the end zone.
"Just being able to bounce around and keep up with these guys, it's great," Kirkpatrick said. "It's a grind every day having to go in, take care of your body, but today I just felt good. I have been in that situation plenty of times on that side and I left that seven route wide open so I just defend that and play the ball into my hip."
In an up-tempo, game-like training camp practice, both the defense and offense enjoyed some highlight moments as the Bengals continue to gear up for the team's first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
After being stymied for the first three series during the 11-on-11 portion, the offense made adjustments and ramped up the intensity. The result was three deep passes that went for touchdowns from three different quarterbacks.
The first came from Andy Dalton to receiver Josh Malone, then on the ensuing series Jeff Driskel found tight end Cethan Carter for another score. Then Ryan Finley connected with receiver Stanley Morgan on a terrific play.
As the team continued to work through substitution packages and getting different personnel groupings for offense, defense and special teams, Kirkpatrick felt like it was a perfect practice to get the units running smoothly.
"Just to get the tempo down, move around the field, get used to different situations, playing situational football," Kirkpatrick said. "I felt like it got me into the groove, got me charged up. It felt good."
The Bengals held their tenth practice of Training Camp inside of Paul Brown Stadium as they prepare for Saturday's preseason matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
PLAY OF THE DAY
The 40-yard touchdown throw from Finley to Morgan to close the 11-on-11 drew the most oohh's & aahh's from the fans in attendance.
Finley looked off the safety and found Morgan streaking down the right sideline. He put the ball right on the numbers as Morgan caught it in stride right at the goal line. It was one of Finley's best throws in camp as the rookie continues to become more comfortable each day.
Finley worked with the No. 3s and should get an extended look during Saturday's preseason game.
The Bengals cleared running back Rodney Anderson on Wednesday, allowing him to make his training camp debut. Anderson only participated in individual drills as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last September.
Even though he had limited work, Anderson didn't hold back on his enthusiasm.
"It felt really good," Anderson said. "I was just really happy. I didn't get to do everything, but to be back out here in pads and cleats felt great. They are taking really good care of me. Watching out for me and my knee and work back in slowly."
Taylor mentioned that Anderson will be eased in through the next few practices. Although Anderson has not played in 11 months, his commitment and work ethic continues to shine.
"The guy has been everything we intended for him to be when we drafted him, and that's one of the reasons we like him so much — not just his on the field talent, but his intangibles," said Taylor. "It's good get Rodney back, get him in the fold and see what he can do in the preseason."
PLAYER OF THE DAY – CB Tony McRae
Individually there were a lot of standouts, especially on the defensive end. One under-the-radar player has been cornerback Tony McRae. He continues to enjoy a strong camp excelling in the slot. During 11-on-11 drills he broke up two passes and made a perfect read on a wide receiver screen for no gain. An honorable mention would be Malone who caught everything in sight and continues to enjoy a third-year renaissance.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW…GOOD
One noticeable difference with Thursday's practice was the coaches using headsets during the 11-on-11 portion. Taylor and his staff moved Thursday's practice into Paul Brown Stadium to simulate an in-game setting as much as possible before Saturday's preseason game.
What is unique about this year is the Bengals will utilize a streamlined headset communication system that should eliminate any interference and be easier to manage from the equipment side.
Jake Kiser, the Bengals' Senior Director of Technology, said the speaker inside a quarterback's helmet is half the size it used to be. The new system also has less outside interference due to the way it is encrypted.
Taylor in his media press conference said it's likely he'll keep the majority of his starters out or limit their snap counts. Looking ahead to the start of the regular season, Taylor already said that defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carl Lawson would sit out Saturday's game. Also not playing Saturday will be running backs Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and Anderson, as well as receiver John Ross, tight end Tyler Eifert and cornerback Darqueze Dennard.