FLOWERY BRANCH, GA —Along John Jerry's way to the NFL, his big brother was always there to offer help.
The NFL Combine: Check.
The draft process: Check.
Training camp: Check.
On the surface there doesn't seem to be a lot of sibling rivalry between Miami Dolphins rookie guard John Jerry and his older brother, Peria Jerry.
And when they face off for the first time in their NFL careers Friday night in Miami, the only rivalry will be the one that naturally occurs on the field between two teams squaring off.
"We're family," John Jerry said following Miami's practice Wednesday. "That's my best friend, man. He's the person I am closest to in this world. He's my big brother, man. He's always been there for me, but we've just got to go out and both of us have a job to do and both of us have a responsibility to do."
The Jerry brothers have enough on their plate to worry about entering the preseason's third game without adding the pressure of facing off against a brother to the list.
John, a third-round pick for the Dolphins this year, is expected to compete immediately for a starter's role on an offensive line that finished fourth in the league last season in rushing.
Peria, a first-round defensive tackle for the Falcons in 2009, is coming back from a lost rookie season to a knee injury. It will be the former Ole Miss All-American's first game action since going down last season in Week 2.
Coming along from injury, Peria missed the preseason's first two games, but Falcons head coach Mike Smith said Wednesday he expects Jerry to play, although a little more limited than the team's other starters.
"It's going to be an opportunity for us to evaluate where Peria is," Smith said. "This will be his first full speed action. He's worked extremely hard to get back into this position and I know he's excited about the opportunity to play. We'll get him in, in limited snaps this week. It won't be the whole 30 or 35 that the starters are playing."
Peria's so focused on his first game back that speaking to his brother, as he has through John's NFL journey to date, is far from his mind.
"I mean if we do, we do," Peria said Wednesday afternoon with a chuckle. "If we don't, we don't."
The younger Jerry differs from his older brother a little in that he thinks Peria will call before the game, but he still acknowledges the competitive fire that burns for the two of them.
"This is game week and I'm getting ready to go out and show my teammates that I can do my responsibilities and I'm pretty sure he's going to do the same thing," John said.
Both had standout careers while at Ole Miss, but rarely faced off on the practice field. In college John often played as an offensive tackle, squaring off against the team's defensive ends, while Peria remained inside battling guards and the center.
A position switch in the NFL for John means the two brothers will lock arms for one of the first times in their football lives. For Peria, it also means watching his younger brother play a position he's never seen him in, which is something he'll have to study, but the name on the back of the jersey will mean very little to him.
"I mean, I've never watched him at guard," Peria said. "I'm going to go study the film just like everybody else."
John agrees with his brother there. The brotherhood they share means little now that they're paid to play the game and dominate the man across from them.
"It's just going to be a ballgame," John said. "He doesn't have on the same color I have on and I don't have on the same color he has on so it's going to be a war. I'm pretty sure he looks at it the same way."
And now that they're earning a paycheck, they both want to blaze their own trails.
Teammates at every level since their school days, neither had much interest in playing with each other at the professional level. They wanted to achieve their own success and feel the personal pride that comes with it.
"Pretty much I didn't really think about that until I was coming out this year and a lot of people were asking me, do I want to go on the same team as my brother," John said. "But I really don't want to go on the same team as my brother; I want to make my own path because to have an opportunity to actually bang it out with your brother. I think that's a blessing and it's something both of us will be looking forward to."
It may just be something they've quietly waited their whole lives for. Achieving their NFL dreams, but also competing as brothers who always had the other's back.
Andy Kent from MiamiDolphins.com contributed to this story