Hearing Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith talk about Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is like listening to him describe himself, and vice versa.
While the Ravens and Steelers are bitter rivals, they are in many ways much more alike than they are different. That similarity is clear when looking at each team's up-and-coming offensive stars.
Smith and Brown are blossoming into two of the NFL's brightest playmakers and leaders within their respective teams. Whoever has the bigger day Thursday night will likely come out the victor.
"He's probably one of the hardest working guys I've been around," Smith said of Brown. "There's a lot I can take from him. It's not a fluke that he's doing as well as he is."
"He's a guy who has been excelling and is extremely hungry," Brown said of Smith. "I'm excited by this kid all the way and I think he has a bright future."
Smith and Brown originally met in 2009 when Smith went to Florida with a teammate from the University of Maryland to train for the NFL Scouting Combine. Smith was still a junior and Brown was a senior getting ready for the draft.
They especially bonded the next offseason when Smith was the one preparing for the combine in Florida. Brown is from Miami and spends his offseasons training there. Smith marvels at the number of different training regimens Brown has, from the usual stuff to yoga.
The two struck up a friendship over their sweat-packed workouts and have kept in touch since. Brown said they are "absolutely" tight.
"He's a hard-working family man, always has his kids around," said Smith, who got married in July and is excited about his first child on the way. "He's one of the better guys in this league."
Besides who they are as people, the two receivers are both enjoying breakouts this season.
After five weeks, Smith was leading the NFL in receiving yards. He has already set a single-season career-high in yards (859). With two more catches, he'll set a new career high in receptions.
Brown leads the NFL with 80 catches, which surpassed his 69 from 2011. He's got 1,044 receiving yards (64 yards short of his high mark) and personal best six touchdowns.
They're both big-play threats each time they touch the ball, although in different ways.
Smith has more of a long speed whereas Brown has incredible burst in tight spaces, which is also why he's used as a punt returner.
Smith's 17.9 yards per catch rank fifth in the NFL. Brown averages 13 yards per reception, but has logged catches over 40 yards each of the past three games. He beat one of the best cornerbacks in the game, Cleveland's Joe Haden, with six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown last week.
"We're different kind of players – different kind of big play guys. He's so elusive, so quick," Smith said.
"He's a big playmaker," Brown said. "Love his speed, love his intensity, love his hunger and his passion for the game. He's a great friend of mine and I'm excited to see him develop as his career continues."