Bengals' Kirkpatrick makes practice debut

Kirkpatrick, a cornerback from Alabama whom the Bengals selected 17th overall in April, had been working his way back from a left knee injury he suffered just before camp began. He said he felt rusty but encouraged following the 105-minute practice at Paul Brown Stadium.

“It felt pretty good,” he said. “I started out pretty slow, but as the practice got going and I got warmed up, I started moving around pretty good.

“I’m pretty much where I thought I’d be,” he added.

Participating only in one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills, Kirkpatrick was beat on long balls twice, once by Armon Binns and another time by fellow rookie Marvin Jones.

“This was the first day he’s practiced since May, so I didn’t expect much,” defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said Kirkpatrick will not play in Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, but he added that he hopes to get him some snaps in the preseason finale at Indianapolis on Aug. 30.

“He’s worked hard at the rehab, and the guys working with him have done an excellent job,” Lewis said. “The last week he’s looked like he’s football ready, so it’s a good week to get him up and back and acclimated to playing football and practicing football.”

Kirkpatrick’s return is welcome news for a banged-up secondary that allowed Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to complete 18-of-21 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown Thursday night in a 24-19 Bengals win.

Brandon Ghee has missed most of training camp with a hand injury and could be out for the year. Adam Jones and Jason Allen also have missed considerable time. Neither played against the Falcons, and Allen missed the preseason opener against the Jets.

“It was great getting back out there with those guys, and I felt like they were ready for me to get back,” Kirkpatrick said. “It was a learning experience for me to go out there and get my mental reps when I wasn’t in, and when I got in to do my job the best way I could.”

Kirkpatrick did not wear a brace during practice, but he did have on a knee wrap. Afterward he said there was some pain, but nothing of concern.

“It’s still frustrating right now because I’m still not all the way ready, but this is the process that I have to go through,” he said. “You have got to go through some pain. It’s nothing I feel is going to slow me down.”

Kirkpatrick also missed one of the three days of mandatory minicamp in June with an illness, and he participated in only four of the 10 OTA practices prior to that.

When asked how far behind he is, Kirkpatrick said, “Not too far, but I would be telling a lie if I told you I was perfectly there. Never arrive. That’s the motto I go by. I never arrive. I am still striving just to overcome my injury right now.

“I got time to mature. I am not going to let this stress me. I’m taking it day by day. I’m just blessed to be here. We’ve got a bunch of guys in front of me that got a lot of experience, and I am just going to feed off those guys.”

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