|Bengals first-round pick CB Dre Kirkpatrick (left) could possibly make his NFL debut Sunday against Pittsburgh. (US Presswire)|
CB Dre Kirkpatrick didn't anticipate when he was drafted No. 17 overall by the Bengals this year that by Week 7 the storyline would still be about making his debut. For now, he'll take it, though. The conversation finally progressing beyond the knee injury that's kept him out all season sounds great to him.
Kirkpatrick was cleared to participate fully in practice last week. Not only has he practiced, but reviews have been unanimously glowing.
“I've been really impressed with Dre Kirkpatrick in practice,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. "More impressed than any time he's been here.”
Lewis proceeded with caution since the original diagnosis, only to suffer a setback attempting to return the final week of preseason. The original idea for a debut date seemed to be on path following next week's bye. That still appears in place, but the more he sees of Kirkpatrick the more Lewis realizes suiting him up soon could make a significant difference in the secondary.
"If I can ever get him up and dressed, I certainly will right away,” Lewis said of Kirkpatrick. “And when we get him suited up, we'll get him playing. But I'm really pleased with him.”
Lewis wouldn't close the door to the possibility of Kirkpatrick playing Sunday, but with a bye on deck, one more week would allow him to return in complete recovery on Nov. 4 against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
He continues his work on the practice field where defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has been working him in with the first and second team.
Kirkpatrick doesn't concern himself with decisions over when he'll return.
"That's Coach's decision, I'm just playing my role,” he said. “When my number is called, it will be called. I'm not going to bug Coach with that. It's not my job to ask. I'm ready. Body feels good. Just waiting.”
A stable of veterans stand in front of him at this point. Terence Newman and Leon Hall have started with Adam Jones, earning time as well. Jason Allen (quad) has yet to make a major impact, but finally is healthy. That affords the luxury to wait two more weeks on Kirkpatrick.
Regardless of when Kirkpatrick returns, whether it be against Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning or Eli Manning, he knows they'll be gunning for the rookie. There's no hiding the fact he can't wait for such an opportunity.
"I'm out there, I know they're going to come,” Kirkpatrick said. “Just trust in my technique and what Coach Zimmer is telling me and everything will pretty much play out.”
Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSBengals.