Boykin gets opportunity to help Steelers' secondary vs Colts
Dec. 04, 2015
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brandon Boykin has patiently waited for the chance to show the Pittsburgh Steelers what he can do. That opportunity figures to come for the cornerback Sunday night when the Steelers host the Indianapolis Colts in a matchup of 6-5 teams.
The Steelers have allowed 300-plus passing yards in each of the last three games. They rank 30th among the 32 NFL team in pass defense, giving up 283.6 yards a game, which is better than only the New Orleans Saints (284.2) and New York Giants (309.2).
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he'd likely make changes in the secondary and it appears Boykin will replace Antwan Blake in the starting lineup.
The Steelers acquired Boykin on Aug. 1 from the Philadelphia Eagles in a training-camp trade for a conditional fifth-round draft pick. However, the fourth-year veteran has been on the field for just 23 defensive plays through the first 11 games.
Boykin was the Eagles' primary nickel cornerback and had six interceptions in 2013.
"When you're in the situation I've been in, it's tough because you have to prepare every single week because you could be in at any time," Boykin said. "But, I have to attack it the same way. I've never lost any confidence in myself this the entire season, so once I get out there, it will be exciting for me."
That Boykin has played so little is a bit of surprise considering the Steelers have had problems defending the pass. However, defensive coordinator Keith Butler is not second-guessing the decision to keep Boykin on the bench.
"Because we really played decent football," Butler said of why changes weren't made sooner. "You say, 'Well, you've given up all these yards and all this stuff,' but that's a combination of a lot of things."
The tipping point came last week in a 39-30 loss at the Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson completed 21 of 30 passes for 345 yards and five touchdowns and consistently converted third-and-long situations.
That came on the heels of the Cleveland Browns' Johnny Manziel throwing for a career-high 372 yards in a game the Steelers won 30-9.
So Tomlin wants to see if Boykin can help solve the problem.
"He's got a good above-the-neck-game," Tomlin said. "He's a detail guy. He was a highly productive guy when he came out of college. He has been a highly productive guy when given the opportunity in the NFL."
Blake has been playing with a broken thumb and struggled in recent weeks. He had a particular rough game at Seattle.
"I am not used to missing a lot of tackles, and I have been missing tackles," Blake said. "It is frustrating being known as one of the most physical corners to going out there and missing tackles."
Boykin has been frustrated, too, by sitting on the bench all season. He is likely to get a chance to take out some of those frustrations against the Colts on Sunday night.
"I have 100-percent confidence in myself that I can continue to do what I've been doing my whole career," Boykin said.
NOTES: LB Sean Spence (hamstring) was ruled out of Sunday's game after missing practice for a second straight day Friday. . TE Heath Miller (ribs) is listed as questionable after leaving last week's game in the second quarter. . QB Ben Roethlisberger and LB Ryan Shazier, who both sustained concussions at Seattle, are listed as probable along with S Will Allen (ankle), WR Martavis Bryant (hip), LB James Harrison (knee), S Mike Mitchell (knee) and TE Matt Spaeth (knee).