Friday, October 25, 2013
Boykin making big impression with Packers
(Eds: With AP Photos.)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jarrett Boykin wasn't sure what the big deal was.
The Green Bay Packers' second-year wide receiver had caught eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown to help his injury-depleted team to a home victory over Cleveland on Sunday.
It never occurred to him that such a performance in his first NFL start -- with fellow wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones sidelined by injury -- might be considered newsworthy.
It took wide receiver Jordy Nelson and a public-relations staffer to convince him to stick around for what would turn out to be an extended session at his locker with reporters.
Asked Thursday about his attempted quick getaway, as he prepared to make his second straight start Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome, Boykin smiled.
"I'm just used to taking off and just going. I didn't know I had to stay," said Boykin, who would try the same thing in college at Virginia Tech -- even though he left there as the school's all-time leader in receptions (184) and yards receiving (2,884).
"I don't really like giving interviews. I don't really like to draw too much attention."
It's too late for that, as Boykin's play has gotten the Vikings' attention.
"Last week, not a whole lot of people knew about him. Now, they do," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday.
"He has to overcome that challenge of people now have film on him, how are they going to play him and how are they going to game-plan (him)? That's all part of being successful in this league."
While Boykin chuckled at the suggestion that the Vikings would be concerned about him, "I mean, I don't necessarily think people are scheming for me or anything," he said.
There's no doubt the Packers will be counting on him again this week.
With Cobb on injured reserve with the designation for return (the earliest he could play is Dec. 15 at Dallas) with a broken leg and Jones unlikely to play after sitting out practice again Thursday, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Boykin is likely to see Aaron Rodgers throw some passes his way.
And with tight end Jermichael Finley out after suffering a frightening neck injury, the Packers will be relying on previously unheralded players such as Boykin.
"If you have a player truly say, `It's not about me, it's about the team,' then he would be one of the guys who'd be, as they say, the poster child of that campaign," wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett said.
"I cannot stress enough, I love that quality about him. You've seen guys where they go out and have success and it goes to their head. This kid is humble.
"I love his mindset. Whenever we get to the point where we think we've got it all figured out or we've arrived, then it's all downhill from there. ... What you did last week -- that doesn't matter.
"What will you do this week? When you step on the field, they don't care about what you did last week. Show what you're capable of this week."
As an undrafted rookie free agent last year, Boykin saw action in 10 games and played 96 snaps after making the roster as the No. 6 wide receiver.
His biggest reception was a fourth-down catch against the Vikings in the regular-season finale that picked up a key first down, although he injured his ankle on the play and missed the playoffs.
With McCarthy using Cobb, Jones and Nelson almost exclusively in the team's three-receiver sets, Boykin had played just 10 snaps through the first four games this season.
Then at Baltimore on Oct. 13, Jones injured a knee in the first quarter and Cobb was lost to a broken leg just before halftime.
After a rocky start -- he dropped the first two passes thrown his way -- Boykin had a 43-yard catch-and-run that jump-started the Packers' offense in the second half.
In the past two weeks, he's played more snaps (128) than he had in his career up to that point.
"From the first day he came here, you could see he belonged on the field," said McCarthy, recalling that Boykin came as a tryout player to the 2012 post-draft rookie orientation camp -- after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars after just four days on their roster -- and earned a contract with his play.
"Big hands, physical kid, would compete, really competed on special teams. So I liked that about him initially. I just think he has learned to relax a little bit and play.
"He puts a lot of pressure on himself. He's a very tough young man and I think you're seeing the benefits of it now. I can't say enough about his work, what he's put into getting ready for his opportunity."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org