Bengals' Dre Kirkpatrick: Facing Richard Sherman will 'elevate your game'
CINCINNATI -- Richard Sherman doesn't know it, but he has taught Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick a little bit about playing the position.
"He taught me leverage," Kirkpatrick said of the Seattle Seahawks corner.
How then, if Sherman doesn't know he's taught Kirkpatrick anything, was it possible the young Bengal learned anything from him?
"I just watched him," Kirkpatrick said. "I studied [tape of] him."
Based off a conversation with Kirkpatrick on Monday, it's clear he reveres Sherman, the Pro Bowl defensive back who is just a year and a half his senior. It's also clear that for as much respect as Kirkpatrick has for his counterpart, he wants Sherman to know he won't be the best corner on the field Sunday when the Seahawks visit Cincinnati.
"I'm pretty sure every game he wants to be the best corner and I know every game I want to be the best," Kirkpatrick said. "When you're going out there and you're about to play against the 'best' -- quote, unquote -- it's going to elevate your game."
Although Sherman is only in his fifth season, he already is a two-time Pro Bowler and has earned a Super Bowl ring. Long lauded for his shutdown ability and the lack of times quarterbacks throw his direction. Sherman's legend has grown over the years in part because of the number of times he has played on the league's biggest stages. It hasn't hurt matters that he's a key player in the "Legion of Boom," Seattle's aggressively nicknamed defense that will try to stall the humming machine that has been the Bengals' early-season offense.
Kirkpatrick is in a different place in his career. Unlike Sherman, who has been starting since his rookie season, Kirkpatrick has just started receiving regular playing time this year, his fourth in the league. Much of what he's seen Sherman achieve so far are milestones he still wants to reach.
While Kirkpatrick knows it will be up to his offensive teammates to silence Sherman, he hopes to outshine him by keeping Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse in check. That's a tall task after Steve Smith Sr. and Jeremy Maclin feasted on Bengals defensive backs in recent weeks.
That's why Kirkpatrick had some advice for Bengals veteran Adam Jones, who is trying to bounce back quickly from a groin injury sustained in Sunday's 36-21 win over the Chiefs.
"That's what I was telling Adam: 'I know you're anxious, but rest up. Heal, don't try to do nothing extra,'" Kirkpatrick said. "'We're going to need you Sunday.'"
Kirkpatrick knows most debates about the league's best cornerback start with Sherman.
"But I don't feel like that," Kirkpatrick said. "He's in the conversation. I do like Sherman. He's a great corner."
Kirkpatrick just believes there are two others in the Queen City who are largely forgotten.
"But we've just got to keep playing," Kirkpatrick said, smiling. "Like I've said, that's some of the [outside] noise. Of course we're going to think about that. Of course we're going to talk to each other about it. But once it's in the locker room, it's in the locker room. Outside the locker room it's a regular day."
With talent like Sherman's on the opposite sideline and with the Bengals trying to improve to 5-0, Sunday will be anything but ordinary at Paul Brown Stadium.
Coley Harvey | espn.com | October 6, 2015