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With Cary Williams out because of a hamstring injury, cornerback Brandon Boykin will start Friday in the Eagles' preseason opener. (USA Today Images)
All Brandon Boykin wants is an opportunity to show that he’s not only a slot cornerback but also an every-down outside cornerback in the NFL.
He’ll get his first crack at the job on Friday night.
With Cary Williams expected to miss the game because of a nagging hamstring injury, Boykin will start opposite Bradley Fletcher at corner when the Eagles open the preseason against the Patriots at the Linc Friday.
Boykin, who inherited the slot spot from Joselio Hanson last year, can’t wait.
“Outside corner, that’s where the big plays are made,” he said after practice Thursday. “The interceptions, the deep balls, stuff like that. That’s where you want to be.”
Boykin got a taste of outside corner during his promising rookie season, but he mainly stayed in the slot while former Pro Bowlers Nnamdi Asomugha and Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie struggled outside.
“There were games I played outside,” he said. “Tampa Bay I played half the game outside. Cleveland I played outside l lot. If they put Calvin Johnson in the slot I’d play outside and they’d put Nnamdi or somebody inside. I played there a lot but not necessarily as the guy.”
On Friday, he’ll be the guy.
It’s all part of proving himself as a potential full-time corner.
“In college, I never came off the field, and that’s what I kind of what I wanted to carry over into the league, and I think this is a good first step to that,” Boykin said.
“A guy like me really always wants to be on the field every play, so if I can prove myself outside maybe I can do both.”
Williams and Fletcher, two new acquisitions, are the projected starters, but Williams has had trouble staying on the field, and Boykin has enjoyed a very good camp.
Boykin is fighting an uphill battle for playing time outside, and with Williams hobbled, Friday is a big opportunity for him.
“Chip [Kelly] and everybody else said when we first got here it’s open competition, not from a starting standpoint but just being able to prove yourself at other positions,” Boykin said.
“For me personally being able to just play slot last year I wanted to come out here and show that I can do both and I think the coaches have seen that.
“In order to get better you’ve got to get repetitions, whether it’s at practice or in a game. I know definitely the more I play and the older I get in the league that I can be a really good one.”
Kelce ready to go
Most veterans are hoping to play as little as possible in the preseason opener Friday evening.
Jason Kelce is hoping to play as much as possible.
Kelce said after practice Thursday he probably needs more work than most of the veterans because he missed almost all of last year with a torn ACL.
Kelce got hurt in a Week 2 win over the Ravens, so he hasn’t done anything live since last September.
“I think I need just as much work as anybody else does, maybe a little bit more because of the injury,” he said. “Bottom line is five offensive linemen have to be able to communicate and be on the same page together, and that’s why it’s really important for us to be out there working together.”
A chance for Barbre
With Jason Peters out for Friday with a hamstring injury and Dennis Kelly out indefinitely after back surgery, Allen Barbre, a 29-year-old journeyman who spent last year out of football, will get the start at left tackle against the Patriots.
“Allen was a tackle in college and has really shown every day … he deserved a shot to be put in the first group, and we'll see,” Chip Kelly said.
“I thought he competed very well the last two days against a pretty good front for the Patriots, so hopefully we'll get a chance to see him.”
Kelly could have swung rookie Lane Johnson out to left tackle, moved Todd Herremans to right guard and inserted Danny Watkins at right guard.
But he said the pressing concern is figuring out what the Eagles have at offensive tackle.
“Part of our deal with Dennis being out right now is developing some depth at tackle,” Chip Kelly said. “So you feel like Jason and Lane are two real good prospects there, but obviously, we're a play away from someone else going into the game.
“But [I’ve] kind of been pleased with the way Allen responded to moving us out there. To have a guy with flexibility as a guard-tackle guy, I think that helps us in the long run.”
Peters (hamstring), Ed Wang (knee) and Kelly (back surgery), defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (hamstring) and Williams (hamstring) all sat out practice and are expected to miss the New England game Friday.
Wide receivers Russell Shepard III and Damaris Johnson (hamstrings) didn’t practice on Thursday, but both are apparently going to at least try to play on Friday.
The Eagles will be off on Saturday and at the Linc for their third of five open practices on Sunday. They return to the NovaCare Complex for practices Monday through Wednesday, which will end the “training camp” portion of the preseason.
The Eagles also have open practices scheduled for the Linc on Aug. 17 and 26. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.