Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Steelers Likely to Target Boykin

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Steelers Likely to Target Boykin

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA -- When opposing offensive quarterbacks seek a cornerback to target, Brandon Boykin is a likely candidate.

It's not just that he's a rookie fourth-round pick, a designation that requires a certain initiation process before earning respect around the league. It's that Pro Bowlers Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie play the outside cornerback spots for the Eagles, leaving Boykin tasked with playing the middle.

Add in the fact that Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Victor Cruz have each taken snaps as slot receivers during the past three weeks against the Eagles, and Boykin's introduction to the NFL has come quickly.

"When you have two Pro Bowl-type corners on the outside and then you have a rookie (in the slot), it's not Boykin's fault it's his first year in the NFL," defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said.

Boykin found himself in the spotlight on Thursday after Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown told the Observer- Reporter in Washington, Pa., that Boykin was the "candy bar" in the Eagles' defensive backfield, meaning that Boykin is the one that can be exploited when the Steelers host the Eagles on Sunday.

Boykin brushed off the comments, refusing to engage in verbal barbs with an established NFL player -- albeit one that Brown admitted he didn't know much about until preparing for Pittsburgh this week.

"It's good he's pointing me out and it's not doing anything other than giving me a little more attention," Boykin said. "I got to go out and do what I do. And if I do right, he's actually helped me in a sense. So tell him I appreciate it."

Boykin's has played well, and his development during the preseason prompted enough confidence for the Eagles to play him in an important spot in the defense. Still, opposing receivers caught nine of the 13 passes targeted against Boykin during the past two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus, and have averaged 12.3 yards per catch.

Boykin will assuredly be tested by wide receivers who apparently think they can feast on him, and an offense that relies on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's arm.

The image of the tough, rugged Steelers must be modernized because this edition is averaging 284. …

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