Atkins, who was a teammate of the Lions quarterback in college, has made 15 tackles and four sacks so far this season.
The 25-year-old told the Lions' website: "From the day he got in there, the guy just had natural strength. Early on in his career he had just awful technique, but he could lift all sorts of weight. You were like, 'How's this guy doing it?'
"He's just naturally a big strong guy. He's obviously putting in a ton of hard work. He's a smart kid. He's figuring it out and he's playing really well."
The Lions and Bengals both sit at the top of their divisions with 4-2 records.