CINCINNATI -- One of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones' best friends will be flying in from California this weekend to attend the team's AFC Wild-Card game at Paul Brown Stadium, and he'll be doing everything in his power to ensure Jones loses.
Jones knows that, and he's OK with it. He wouldn't expect anything less from the guy he calls "my little brother" -- San Diego wide receiver Keenan Allen.
"When he came to (the University of California) for his visit, we just connected," Jones said. "Everything I liked, he liked. It started a great relationship."
The two played two seasons together for the Golden Bears and spent a lot of time dreaming about the exact scenario that is about to play out Sunday afternoon.
"We have had a lot of time to talk about everything," Jones said. "When we are on the big stage, maybe we'll be on the same team. What if we play against each other? Stuff like that. It's happened in his first year in the league. It's pretty cool to see that happen."
Allen is one of the favorites to win Offensive Rookie of the Year after catching 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. Jones has 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"Both of them are playmakers," said Bengals cornerback Terence Newman, who got a firsthand look at Allen on Dec. 1 in San Diego when the rookie caught eight passes for 106 yards in a 17-10 Bengals win.
"When Marvin got here from Day 1, I was like, hey, this dude can play," Newman added. "It's the same thing with Keenan. Balls go up and he's going up to get them. He's not the fastest receiver but he's smart. He knows how to get open. I don't know what they do in Cal but they are doing it well."
Allen credits much of his success to watching and learning from Jones in college.
"He was my mentor," Allen said. "He was a guy I looked up to when I was there. I learned most of my game from him, my knowledge of the game. So he was a great asset to me."
As dynamic as the duo was on the field, they often managed to draw a crowd off it.
Both are music lovers, and if they were on a road trip and the hotel had a piano, Allen would play and Jones would sing to entertain the people in the lobby.
"I'm telling you, everything we do is essentially the same," Jones said.
They shared something else in common when it came to entering the league. Both were drafted far below where they thought they would be, with Jones falling to the fifth round in 2012 and Allen lasting until the third.
"He slid down, and I know a lot of teams are (regretting) it because they let him slip," Jones said.
As tempted as he was to pick up the phone and offer encouragement, Jones remembered his own experience and thought better of it.
"I know I didn't want to be talked to by anybody, so I just talked to him after," Jones said. "I knew he was going to be a great asset, and I knew once he got his opportunity he was going to blow up."
Allen said the two talk frequently, and always they keep it friendly.
"No smack," he said. "I just wish him the best of luck, and he wishes me the best of luck."
Jones said he planned to give Allen a call Thursday night, and the two will chat briefly in warmups Sunday.
"It's cool how that unwinded," Jones said. "He's been having a great season. I'm proud of him. It's a good feeling."
(c)2014 Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services