Brothers Jaylen and Sammy Watkins are finally together.
Together on the same football team, that is, as the Bills added Sammy's older brother, cornerback Jaylen Watkins, to their practice squad last weekend after he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 5. Both brothers, who had never previously played organized football on the same team, recognize the uniqueness of the opportunity.
"It's crazy lining up across from him [in practice]," Jaylen, 23-years old, said of Sammy, 22. "In our 15 years of playing football, we never got to play with each other. Then at our last stop of football, which is the NFL, we get to play together. That's a blessing."
"It's great just to have your brother, I mean of course to be on the same team," Sammy said. "You know he can get picked up anywhere [while on the practice squad], but it's a blessing to have him here and watch film together and work against him."
Because Jaylen is on the practice squad, another team can claim him to its active roster and abruptly end his time with his brother. But he understands the business, and is enjoying the time that he does have.
"I'm embracing every second with him," Jaylen said. "I'm at his house afterwards playing with my niece. And even if I got claimed tomorrow, I can still say me and my brother played on the same team finally."
Jaylen jumped at the opportunity to sign with his brother's team. As soon as his agent called him to tell him the Bills wanted to sign him, Jaylen called Sammy to let him know he was heading to Buffalo.
Actually half-brothers who share the same father, Jaylen and Sammy didn't live in the same house growing up, but they did live in the same Florida neighborhood and attend the same middle school. And while they never suited up together, they did not miss opportunities to bond over football. Almost every day after school they would go straight to the high school football field, usually without even dropping their bags off at home. They would play until they were kicked off the field. While they were there, Sammy soaked up all he could from his older brother.
"For the most part you always watch your older brother," he said. "He played cornerback, and I wanted to play cornerback. In high school he went to receiver, and I wanted to play receiver. Basically I could play just about any position because I learned from him."
Jaylen hesitated to say that he taught Sammy the game, but both brothers talked about how much time they spend teaching each other. There is not a sibling rivalry presence. They only want to make each other better.
"I look at a rival as someone that you hate and want to beat at everything," Jaylen said. "Trust me. We want to beat each other at everything, but in a constructive way. If I beat him, I'm going to tell him how I got him on that rep. I'm not going to tell my rival that. [Sammy's] going to tell me everything he knows, and I'm going to tell him everything I know."
But their build-each-other-up attitude does not mean that they take it easy on one another in practice. On Wednesday, they got their first live reps against each other. It was business as usual according to Jaylen, just two guys trying to win the rep.
After the fact though, it's surreal. And that surreal feeling is what Jaylen sought out of signing with Buffalo. While a couple of other teams contacted his agent, he refused to pass up the opportunity to suit up with Sammy.
"I think if I would have went to another team and never played with [Sammy] and knew that I had the opportunity, I would have wondered, 'How would it have been?'" Jaylen said. "Now I've got that out of the way."