The defensive tackle has reached the Pro Bowl twice in his three-season NFL career.
The 25-year-old told the Dayton Daily News: "It's always on my mind that there is someone out there trying to get better than me.
"That's why I put in the extra work during the off-season. Not only that, I'm trying to be a leader on the team.
"The younger guys are looking up to me, and when they see me working hard that's going to trickle down to them."
Atkins made 53 tackles for the Bengals last season, including 12.5 sacks.