Dre Kirkpatrick never played under Vance Joseph the defensive coordinator, but he credits two seasons spent with the former Cincinnati Bengals defensive backs coach and current Arizona Cardinals DC for why he’s in Arizona today.
“I had teams calling but I was just weighing all my options,” Kirkpatrick said. “When the time came, I felt like I was going to go out there and go with the guy I know best.
“V.J., he’s always been a mentor to me, on and off the field. Even when he left (Cincinnati), I was still communicating with him, sending texts, just reaching out on personal things.”
A late offseason addition as Arizona looked for veteran free agents once starting cornerback Robert Alford suffered a likely season-ending pectoral injury, Kirkpatrick could parlay three weeks of Cardinals camp into a significant role Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Is he the starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson?
Kirkpatrick could earn that role in the coming weeks, or he could be the first corner substituted in, sliding Byron Murphy to the slot for nickel packages. That’s something the Cardinals did last year.
Point is, expect Kirkpatrick to play against the Niners. And Arizona feels lucky to have him and Joseph teaming up with that prior relationship from 2014-15 in Cincinnati.
“There’s no doubt that trust and their relationship between the two played a huge part in us being able to acquire (Kirkpatrick),” Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “What you see is what you get with V.J. I believe when (Joseph) talked about the situation — that Dre had an opportunity — that (Kirkpatrick) believed him.”
Kingsbury added that Kirkpatrick has been soaking everything in quickly and has played with a chip on his shoulder.
The cornerback, a 2012 first-round pick by the Bengals, is 30 years old and coming off a hyper-extended knee that kept him out of all but six games last year. He’ll be playing in a defense with fewer isolation situations and more inside help in coverage compared to the system in Cincinnati.
The time off, Kirkpatrick said, has helped him recover 100%. He feels that he’s got a lot to prove.
“Only to myself. I feel like I have a lot to prove to myself, my son, because I feel like I am his mentor, I am a person he look up to. I’m only 30 but my son is 14 years old … so I have a fairly older son,” Kirkpatrick said.
“Just being able to get back out here on the field, having those long talks with him of being disciplined and life lessons, I have to lead by example.”
— Notable players not at practice Sunday included running back Kenyan Drake, tight end Maxx Williams, rookie offensive tackle Josh Jones, safety Chris Banjo and undrafted rookie cornerback Jace Whittaker. Kingsbury did not go into detail about any of their injuries but suggested they should not be issues for Week 1 in two weeks.
— Kingsbury also would not detail the severity of safety Kentrell Brice’s leg injury suffered Friday, but the coach did say it was not as significant as it looked. Brice, a backup safety who can also play special teams, left the field field on a cart during the Red & White practice and did not put any weight on his leg.
— Rookie receiver Andy Isabella said he has been playing mostly in the slot after his rookie year was complicated by moving between outside and inside positions.