"I didn't know," Kirkpatrick said with his mouth instantly going agape when he was told after practice he accidentally hit a pre-teenaged fan. "I was in the moment and just competing."
He had good reason to be excited. Mere seconds before, he had just broken up a pass that was attempted during a two-point conversion drill near the end of the Bengals' latest practice. It was one of multiple attempted passes he got at least one hand on Tuesday. He also picked off Andy Dalton when he guessed right on a back shoulder throw that the quarterback left a little short.
Kirkpatrick's play was so good that it brought a smile to co-defensive backs coach Vance Joseph's face. Asked about the fourth-year cornerback's play, Joseph flashed a broad grin and nodded as he said, "He's doing fine. He's doing a good job."
Joseph wasn't the only one smiling on the practice fields over Kirkpatrick. The young fan whose leg was hit by Kirkpatrick's incidentally kicked ball did, too. He was just glad to be part of the action. His friends even joked that he ought to have Kirkpatrick sign in Sharpie the spot the ball hit.
"I want to know who he is," Kirkpatrick said. "I might have something for him."
On the play the deflection occurred, Kirkpatrick was covering receiver Denarius Moore. Just as Moore started cutting a route toward the right side of the end zone, Kirkpatrick opened his hips, turned his torso and extended his right arm in one smooth motion as the pass closed in on them. After the batted ball hit the turf, an energetic Kirkpatrick celebrated the play with a series of high steps that inadvertently caused him to kick the ball in the direction of fans who had lined the sidelines nearby.
Plays like that have made the competition between him and second-year corner Darqueze Dennard that much more intense.
"Man, I just want to make this team happy," Kirkpatrick said. "Now that I'm getting my shot and getting my opportunity, I'm just leaving everything out on the field. I'm just approaching it like a game every day."
Here are a few other observations from Tuesday:
The Bengals had several players not participate as they went through their second straight day in full pads. Receivers Marvin Jones and Onterio McCalebb, and offensive tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith all missed practice. Whitworth said he was getting a veteran's day off, and it appeared Smith received one, too. Jones has a leg injury that kept him out the past two days, and McCalebb has bruised knee that might keep him out two weeks.
While the players above didn't compete, defensive end Wallace Gilberry did. Gilberry missed Tuesday's workout due to a hamstring issue. Fellow end Margus Hunt also returned to practice in a limited capacity, coming off the active/physically unable to perform list.
Who were two rookie defenders to turn heads Tuesday? Marcus Hardison and DeShawn Williams. On one offense vs. defense drill, Hardison wrapped up Rex Burkhead just as the running back thought he was hitting a hole. On another couple of plays, Williams, playing defensive end, worked around his blocker and forced Dalton toward the sidelines and out of the pocket.