Not just a slot: Boykin ready to move outside

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Not just a slot: Boykin ready to move outside

September 13, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Brandon Boykin intercepted his first pass vs. Washington and will start at outside CB this week. (USA Today Images)

Now that Brandon Boykin will be starting at cornerback instead of just playing nickel, maybe he’ll ask special teams coach Dave Fipp to take him off some of the numerous special teams units he’s on to give him a little bit of a break?
 
After all, Boykin played 19 special teams snaps on Monday night in Washington. Combine that with the 70 or 75 snaps he’s likely to get on defense Sunday, and he’s now close to 100 snaps.
 
Boykin was asked about that Thursday, and he started answering before the question was finished.
 
“Nope,” he said. “I want to be on everything.”
 
Boykin could very well be on everything Sunday when the Eagles shoot for a 2-0 start under Chip Kelly in their home opener against the Chargers at 1 p.m. at the Linc.
 
With starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher ruled out Friday with a concussion that he suffered in the Redskins game, Boykin becomes the starter opposite Cary Williams.
 
Boykin said after practice Thursday he’ll play outside when the Chargers have two wide outs on the field and in the slot when they use three wide outs. Brandon Hughes is most likely to play outside when the Chargers line up three wide.
 
“But they throw a lot,” Boykin said. “So I’ll probably be inside a majority of the game.”
 
Boykin, a second-year pro from Georgia, started four games last year, but all four starts were in three-corner formations when the opposing team opened up with three wide.
 
It doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s interesting to note that the Eagles did go 3-1 in those four games, beating the Browns, Ravens and Buccaneers and losing to the Lions. They were 1-11 when he didn’t start.
 
Boykin is on every special team and can play both inside slot and outside corner. The Eagles prefer to keep him in the slot as much as possible, but with Fletcher out, their other options are limited to Hughes, recent acquisition Shaun Prater and rookie seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer.
 
The 22-year-old Boykin lacks ideal height at 5-foot-9 but has very good speed and tremendous leaping ability. He said he enjoys being a guy who can play multiple positions and help the team in multiple ways.
 
“I think it makes you very valuable,” he said. “They put the trust to put you outside, inside, every special teams, it shows what kind of athlete [I am], how conditioned I am, how much a team player I feel like I want to be, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters, doing what it takes to win, and that’s all I care about.”
 
Stuck behind struggling starters Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, Boykin got 505 snaps on defense last year playing exclusively inside, or about 31½ snaps per game, which translated to 48 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
 
On Monday night in Washington, Boykin played 45 snaps on defense, or 60 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps.
 
DRC and Asomugha both started all 16 games last year, so Boykin’s snaps outside were very limited, both at practice and in games.
 
“Last year, at practice, I wasn’t getting a lot of corner at all, just mainly focusing on nickel,” he said. “Thank God nobody got injured because I don’t know what would have happened. But definitely I feel more prepared this year.”
 
You might think it’s easier to go from outside to the slot, but Boykin said the opposite is true.
 
“Outside is easier, honestly,” he said. “You’ve got a lot more help, you’ve got the sideline, you’ve got time to react. Nickel is just so fast-paced. They can just cut across the middle, the ball’s thrown and you’ve got to chase them, it’s crazy.
 
“But playing slot, that does really help you to be able to play outside and helps my confidence, so when I’m out there I feel calm, relaxed and ready to play.”

Boykin recorded his first career interception Monday night in Washington, and Williams also had one.
 
It was the first time since last year’s opener that the Eagles had more than one interception in a game and the first time two Eagles corners had INTs in the same game since Nov. 13, 2011, when Asante Samuel and Asomugha had picks off Cards quarterback John Skelton.
 
Boykin said his preparation for the Chargers doesn’t change, whether he’s starting or playing nickel or a combination of both.
 
“It doesn’t change at all,” he said. “I play every day, whether I’m starting or not, I still get the reps, I still have a game plan, I still know what’s going on. Because at any moment I could be the starter if somebody gets tired and has to come out or gets injured or whatever, so I always have to be ready.”

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