CINCINNATI -- After playing nearly all of last season with a nagging shoulder injury, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick had surgery to fix the issue two months ago, a source told ESPN on Monday.
Kirkpatrick is still rehabbing as the Bengals go through their voluntary offseason workout program, but he is expected to be fully healthy before Cincinnati begins organized team activities (OTAs) May 24.
Like other Bengals, Kirkpatrick was banged up quite a bit throughout the season. Still, he appeared in every game, receiving starts in all but one. In addition to the shoulder issue, Kirkpatrick also appeared on injury reports with calf, hip, knee, ankle and quadriceps injuries. The quad issue surfaced in the Bengals' wild-card round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in January, and was bad enough that it likely would have kept him out of the next game had Cincinnati advanced.
Shoulder surgery was an option for Kirkpatrick during the season. But he would have had a three-month recovery window, and the source indicated the first-year starter was unwilling to lose that much playing time.
The shoulder injury was suffered in the third quarter of the Bengals' Week 3 win at Baltimore when Kirkpatrick landed awkwardly while trying tackle Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. at the goal line. On the fourth-and-5 play, Smith caught a screen before breaking a couple of tackles and getting free down the right sideline. Safety Reggie Nelson and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur both missed tackles near the first-down marker before Kirkpatrick and other defenders went into chase mode. Kirkpatrick caught Smith, but it was too late. The 50-yard score gave Baltimore its first touchdown of the game.
Kirkpatrick sprained his right AC joint after he landed, the source said. Still, he finished the game. Kirkpatrick later recorded two tackles and also allowed Smith to score another touchdown. On that go-ahead, fourth-quarter score, Smith pushed off Kirkpatrick's right shoulder to create separation right at the goal line.
This is a contract year for Kirkpatrick, who was soundly criticized by Pro Football Focus after the season. The site charged him with 16 missed tackles and credited him with surrendering 307 yards after the catch. According to PFF, those were the second- and 11th-worst figures among cornerbacks.
He also had a career-high 70 tackles, including 10 that came in a November win against the Rams.