“I ain’t trippin’,” Kirkpatrick said Monday afternoon as the Bengals began their third week of voluntary offseason workouts.
“I know I’m going to work my butt of to go get (the starting job),” he added. “I don’t want nothing handed to me. I want to take everything I get.”
In his first full season as a starter in 2015, Kirkpatrick started 15 games and will enter training camp listed atop the depth chart at left corner opposite Adam Jones on the right side.
It was Kirkpatrick and Jones who welcomed Jackson to Cincinnati shortly after he arrived Friday, taking him to dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
“Everybody knows how this goes,” Jones said. “I hope the guys are eager for the challenge. I wake up for days when I get to compete against other people. I think it’ll be good for the team. We’ve done this before with Dre and (Darqueze) Dennard.”
The Bengals drafted Kirkpatrick in the first round in 2012 and he sat for two years before getting consistent playing time. The team took Dennard in the first round in 2014, and he played just 62 of a possible 1,124 defensive snaps as a rookie.
“What corner has come in here since I’ve been here that played first off?” Kirkpatrick asked. “It’s all about a development. We need guys to develop. I feel like he’ll be a great piece.
“Like I told him at our dinner, I said it’s not my job to give you a position. It’s my job to teach you and for you to go out there and take it,” Kirkpatrick added. “He’s ready to go in and work and we are going to teach him as much as we can.”
If Jackson is a quick learner, he may not have to wait as long to get on the field as Kirkpatrick and Dennard did.
Dennard, who is coming off a season-ending shoulder injury suffered in November, expects to be ready by training camp, but that isn’t a given. And the other corners on the roster are Chris Lewis-Harris, a fourth-year player who has been waived five times by the Bengals, Chykie Brown, a fifth-year player who is with his third team and has made six career starts, and Josh Shaw, last year’s fifth-round pick.
“He’s walking into same situation me and Queze walked into, just the room is a little younger,” Kirkpatrick said. “We have a lot of guys more his peers. When I came in, the guy next to me was seven years into the league.”
As far as a new contract, Kirkpatrick said it’s not something he’s focused on.
Whether the team drafted Jackson to replace him or simply add depth doesn’t change the fact that if Kirkpatrick plays well, someone will reward him with a new contract.
He made it clear he hopes the Bengals are that team.
“I want to stay here,” he said. “I like it here. I am starting to go out more, starting to interact in the community. I’m just starting to get over that hump where I’m getting out meeting new friends and new people. I used to sit around in the house all day and really didn’t do nothing. Those are some of the transitions I’m starting to go through now.
“I feel like they are going to make it right,” he added. “If they want me, they are going to make it right.”