Trent Richardson and Dre Kirkpatrick have each gone through five NFL practices — and zero involving veterans who will soon be their regular teammates.
It’s certainly not too soon for each to think about what it’s going to be like in mid-September when the close friends, first-round picks and former Alabama teammates play on opposite sides for the first time when the Browns visit Cincinnati.
“It’s going to be a war,” Kirkpatrick said at Bengals minicamp this weekend. “It’s like I told him, ‘We ain’t teammates no more.’ He knows that, and I know that. We’re still best of friends, but I play for the Bengals and he plays for the Browns.”
As long as both players are healthy, they probably won’t have to wait long for that first NFL collision. Richardson should be the Browns’ primary ball-carrier, and Kirkpatrick has a good chance to win a starting cornerback job with the Bengals.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Richardson said of going against his friend. “Dre is a hard hitter and he’s a real hard worker. He’s going to be turned up all the time. When the time comes it’ll be a pretty big collision, and it’ll be a good game because I know he’s going to respect my game, I respect his game, so we’ll have to go all out.
“Dre, he earned everything he’s got in front of him and I know what type of worker he is. We came in together. We also are like best friends. We went to the same college because of each other. No matter where we went, we were going to the same college. We knew that hard work would be it for us, and we knew we were going to be great.”
Kirkpatrick said he hit Richardson during a full-speed practice at Alabama one time, and he feels the pain — literally and figuratively — of the would-be tacklers who have ended up on Richardson’s highlight reel over the last three years.
“You can’t be scared,” Kirkpatrick said. “If you tense up, it’s going to hurt you more than it’s going to hurt him. You just have to give it all you’ve got.
“When I hit him, he went down. He didn’t run me over. It was a good, clean tackle. I wasn’t trying to hurt him or nothing. It was a good, clean tackle. It’s going to be pretty different when we play them two games this year. The collision might be a little bit stronger.”
It’s still four months away, but both are looking forward to it.