METAIRIE, La. -- You would think Rob Ryan, of all people, would be able to tell a pair of identical twins apart since he and brother Rex are twins.
But Ryan was just as lost as anyone else this week when the New Orleans Saints added cornerback Brandon Dixon to the practice squad. Brandon's twin brother, Brian, has been a cornerback with the Saints since last season.
"He got us messed up the first day in defensive meetings. He called me Brian and him Brandon," Brandon said with a laugh.
"They can't tell us apart," Brian added.
According to a list produced by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Dixons are the 14th set of twins to have both played pro football; Brandon was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' active roster last year. That list also includes Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey and Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty in the NFL today.
But the only set of twins to play on the same team together was Gene and Tom Golsen on the 1926 Louisville Colonels. If Brandon gets promoted to the active roster, the Dixons will be the second duo.
As rare as it is, however, Brian and Brandon said it feels normal to them because they've played together at every level, from Pop Warner through college, before they got split up for the first time last year in the NFL.
"I was excited, but I didn't think it was a big deal. I've been playing with him for a long time," Brandon said. "In the NFL, it should be a big deal. ... But I'm kind of used to it."
Not only are the brothers living together now in Brian's two-bedroom apartment, but they're even sharing a locker.
They said the team came up with the locker idea. Whether or not it was meant as a joke, they don't seem to mind.
Brian's nickname with the Saints has always been "Twin." Brandon's name? "BDB."
It stands for "Brian Dixon's Brother."
The two said they have always been extremely close. They were originally going to split up after junior college, with Brandon going to West Virginia and Brian to Kansas State. But when Brandon didn't qualify academically, Brian said he decided to go with his brother to Northwest Missouri State, where they went undefeated and won the 2013 NCAA Division II championship.
Yes, the two have pulled the switching jerseys prank in college. They have the exact same flowing dreadlocks -- though Brian insisted he grew them first and Brandon copied.
"People say I'm the more goofy twin and he's the more serious when it's time to go to work," Brian said. "That's really about [the only difference]."
The brothers have always been supportive of one another, even as they seem to have taken turns experiencing individual success. Brandon was higher on the all-conference lists in college and got drafted in the sixth round by the New York Jets in 2014; Brian went undrafted.
But then, Brian cracked New Orleans' roster last summer, and Brandon got cut in New York. Brandon landed with the Buccaneers for most of last season, then got cut again this summer. He has bounced around on practice squads with Seattle, Indianapolis and New England this year.
"It got to me, too, a little bit, to be honest with you. I'm a human," Brian said of the times Brandon has been cut. "I kept calling him every day, telling him to keep his head up. But he'd always tell me every day, 'I'm good, I'm good.' That kept my head straight. Because he's my twin, I could feel the energy over the phone. I knew he was good. He kept a positive head."
Brian said he has been talking Brandon up to the Saints.
"I said, 'He's a hard worker just like me. You know, we do the same things, same genes,'" Brian said. "I said he'll work hard to make the team better."
The two have both made their mark in the NFL primarily on special teams. Brian is the Saints' top gunner, a role Brandon played for the Buccaneers.
The Saints have actually been rotating several players in the other gunner role, so maybe there will be an opening for Brandon down the road.
Just imagine how hard they will be to tell apart if that happens.