GEORGETOWN, Ky. — The pride bursts like his little brother's 4.3s in the 40-yard dash when Artrell Hawkins talks about Andrew.
"He's done everything in football the hard way," Artrell said Monday night from the Steelers training camp in Latrobe, Pa. "If there's 30 ways to skin a cat, he must be on his 28th. He's got great feet, great hands, tremendous athleticism. The only thing wrong with him is that he's 5-7, 183 pounds."
Artrell, the Bengals second-round pick from 1998 who started 72 games through the 2003 season, is delighted his old club picked Andrew off waivers Monday night from the Rams. The high-flying Saints also claimed him, but Artrell is glad Andrew landed in Cincinnati because the Bengals worked him out in January. It was the Rams that offered after his two years in Canada, where he helped Montreal win two Grey Cups.
Artrell found out Andrew was a Bengal while working training camp as a secondary coach for the Steelers.
"With the lockout, he didn't have a chance to prove anything or work out for them and it was a numbers thing," Artrell said. "But the Bengals saw him in person and they liked him. They've seen the athleticism and they know the character and work ethic. He's a great tackler."
Andrew, 25, nine years younger than Artrell, has been a Bengals fan since he was eight, when Artrell enrolled at the University of Cincinnati. He opted to play at Toledo, where he was the roommate and one of the favorite targets for new Bengals quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
"That's one of the reasons I'm so excited," Andrew said. "Bruce and I go way back and we were workout partners during the lockout when we went back to Toledo a few times. But Cincinnati is like my second home because of Artrell."
Not only is Andrew familiar with the town and one of the quarterbacks, he's also used to all kinds of competition. He was on Michael Irvin's reality TV show a few years back and finished runnerup for a spot in the Cowboys training camp in what became a popular appearance.
"I know I'm biased but ask anybody who watched the show and they know Andrew won," Artrell said.
Artrell thinks his brother could be a jack of all trades as a slot receiver on offense and a slot corner on defense as well as a cover player on special teams.
"Artrell taught me how to play cornerback when I was in high school, so I've done it before," Andrew said. "I'll play anywhere. If they say, 'Left tackle,' I'll do it. I think special teams are a strength of mine because I like to cover and make plays. Whatever they want to do. I'm just grateful for the opportunity."
The odds are long. A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby figure to be hard to blow out of there. That leaves two spots for guys like Andre Caldwell, sixth-rounder Ryan Whalen, and Hawkins. And just one of those spots would be active on game day.
But that's OK. Andrew Hawkins has always been the underdog.
"He'll be fun to watch," Artrell said.