CINCINNATI -- Remember the checklists Chad Johnson had in 2005 and 2009?
You know the ones the former Cincinnati Bengals receiver compiled at the start of those seasons outlining how the cornerbacks he was facing each week fared against him?
Well current Bengals corners Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick probably could start putting together their own (albeit, imaginary) list featuring the receivers they face this season. Already, they've shut down two top wideouts who ended up having solid performances in the weeks they weren't playing the Bengals.
All due respect to Johnson, who formerly went by Ochocinco, but who have Jones and Kirkpatrick made "kiss the baby" so far? Oakland's Amari Cooper (five catches, 47 yards), and San Diego's Keenan Allen (two catches, 16 yards). Against Baltimore last week, Cooper had seven catches for 109 yards. Allen had 15 for 166 versus Detroit in Week 1.
Up next for Jones and Kirkpatrick: Baltimore's Steve Smith Sr., who had 10 catches for 150 yards at Oakland last week.
"I watched him when I was in high school and middle school. He's been in the league so long," said Kirkpatrick, the Bengals' fourth-year corner.
Smith entered the league in 2001, four years before Jones. Despite playing that long, Smith still has only faced the Bengals five times in his career. That includes the two meetings last season when Smith joined the Ravens after spending his first 13 years with the Panthers. Although kept in check with a three-catch, 35-yard showing in the teams' most recent meeting, he went off during last season's opener, catching seven passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a Raven.
The lone score Smith had in that game came in the fourth quarter when he slipped past Jones for a go-ahead, 80-yard touchdown reception that the Bengals responded quickly to with an effective winning 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green.
Smith's last game against Cincinnati ended in a penalty controversy after he and Bengals safety George Iloka got tangled up on a deep ball from quarterback Joe Flacco in the closing seconds of that tight game. As Smith was going up for the jump ball, he pulled Iloka down, drawing what he later felt was a questionable offensive pass interference penalty. As the flag was being thrown, he caught the ball and sprinted in for what could have been the winning touchdown. But the penalty negated the score, pushed the Ravens back and gave the Bengals' defense another chance to hold. Baltimore went on to lose, and the Bengals completed the season sweep of the Ravens.
Throughout his tenure, Smith has been known to play with an edge of intensity few current receivers demonstrate. It might not mesh well with Kirkpatrick's and Jones' style of play.
"We just have to keep our composure, me and Pac [Jones], and not let the over-aggressiveness or anything like that affect our play or get us out of whack a little bit," Kirkpatrick said. "But we know the type of person [Smith] is, and we know the type of people we are. We just have to hold a little bit back."
They don't want to hold too much back, though. After all, they now have a reputation to uphold and a list to check through. A chance to shut down Smith could go a long way toward convincing the rest of the football world just how good the Kirkpatrick/Jones cornerback tandem really is.