Kirkpatrick's biggest takeaway from Winston's play in the Bengals' 25-11 loss on Monday night at Tampa Bay was the fact the rookie signal-caller made noticeable fixes from his first preseason game.
"He corrected a lot of the things we had seen on film," Kirkpatrick said. "He corrected a lot as far as his eyes, staring down the receiver. He did a great job of holding our safeties off."
Winston was 8-for-13 for 90 yards in limited play on Monday. He opened the game with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard touchdown run. It was one of two rushing scores he has had in two games this preseason. Winston's Game 2 performance followed up a 9-for-19, 131-yard, two-sack, one-interception effort in the preseason opener at Minnesota the week before.
Kirkpatrick said the quarterback he saw on tape from two weeks ago looked completely different than the one he faced this week.
"That's a compliment to him and his coaching staff for seeing the things that we had seen and correcting them," Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick was targeted twice only by Winston. Both passes resulted in incompletions. The first came when Kirkpatrick deflected a deep pass along the Bengals' sideline, and the other was on a ball Winston had overthrown with Kirkpatrick playing the intended receiver closely.
The fourth-year Bengals corner did get burned once in the game. One drive after Winston left with an apparent ankle injury, Bucs backup quarterback Mike Glennon connected with Russell Shepard on a 22-yard touchdown pass that was caught after Shepard blew past Kirkpatrick. With the Bengals in Cover Zero, Kirkpatrick had no help containing Shepard deep in man coverage.
"I played the route well," Kirkpatrick said. "I just couldn’t run."
High humidity and temperatures hovering near 90 degrees had some Bengals gassed, Kirkpatrick said. Thanks to a mild August in Cincinnati, the conditions Monday were some of the warmest the Bengals have played in this year.
"Towards the end you could see I was trying to burst, I just didn’t have it," Kirkpatrick said.
Like his teammate in the Bengals' secondary, safety Reggie Nelson believes Winston has a future in the NFL.
"You can't take anything away from his play," Nelson said Monday night. "He did a good job getting prepared for this game, and he's going to be good. He's going to be a good quarterback for them."