CINCINNATI -- Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick considers anyone who played his college football at Alabama a brother for life, even if he never has met them.
"That stuff is personal this week," Kirkpatrick said. "I already know it, they ain't going to say it. For me. I played with (former Bengals wideout Mohamed Sanu), I played with Julio. Calvin played at Bama. I know the buzz going around down there because that’s where we’re from. I already know I’ve got to have my s--- together. It’s going to be real. I already know it."
Jones and Kirkpatrick were teammates for two seasons at Alabama, where they helped the team win a national championship in 2009, Jones declared for the draft after the 2010 season and was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft. Kirkpatrick left after the 2011 season and was the No. 17 overall pick for the Bengals.
"A great challenge," he said. "Julio is still my guy win, lose or draw. This week I feel like it’s going to be a little extra something."
It has been a long time since Jones and Kirkpatrick faced off. The Falcons and Bengals rarely play each other, and during their last meeting in 2014, Kirkpatrick was a special-teams player only. Jones tested the other Bengals corners with seven receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown in a 24-10 Bengals' win.
Now bragging rights are on the line.
"We never played against each other. I’ve been in the league seven years. I never had the opportunity to go against him for whatever reason. I’m looking forward to it," Kirkpatrick said.
But Kirkpatrick can still remember those battles, and he compared them to facing teammate A.J. Green in practice.
"I just know that competitive nature me and him had when I was down there," Kirkpatrick said. "It’s like me and A.J. Sometimes me and A.J. are about to kill each other in practice but we don’t go that far. We’re professionals. We know it’s just competition. I’m going be ready."
The Bengals tend to keep their cornerbacks on one side of the field, so it's unlikely Kirkpatrick or William Jackson will shadow Jones, which is fine with him. He said they would need to do that only if they didn't have several capable cornerbacks.
"I feel like we’re good. We’re anchored. We rally off each other," Kirkpatrick said. "I don’t feel like I need to follow anybody because I trust the guy on the other side and I feel he feels the same way. We’re thriving. I shot (Jackson) a text. I told him we have to get back to what we do. It starts with practicing hard. That’s one thing I’m going to make sure that me and him and Darqueze (Dennard) do. Practice hard because I feel like I didn’t have my best week of practice and that showed up on the field."
Since he has faced both Green and Jones as teammates, Kirkpatrick had a unique perspective on how they compare. Their quiet personalities are similar, he said, but their gifts on the field show up in different ways.
"They’re both quiet. They're not guys who are going to be running their mouth and talking trash. They just show up to work, go to work every day," he said. "They’re similar as far as when you look at them, but to me A.J. is a just little more finesse in certain things he does and Julio is a little more physical in certain things he does. But they both have great hands and they both go get the deep ball."
He added with a grin: "A.J. is better though."