Boykin not getting riled by Steeler's taunts
Posted: Fri, Oct. 5, 2012
BY FRANK SERAVALLI
Daily News Staff Writer
STEELERS Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown said it on Wednesday and Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin's phone blew up.
Brown apparently thinks the rookie nickelback Boykin will be a tasty treat on Sunday.
"That's the candy bar," Brown told the Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter, a small suburban Pittsburgh newspaper. "He's given up a lot of plays. Whoever gets that guy definitely has to take advantage."
So, is Boykin more like a Mr. Goodbar? Or Heath Bar? Or Nestle Crunch? After all, Boykin would not be the first professional athlete with a candy bar named after him - he can thank Babe Ruth for that.
"That's funny to me," Boykin said, after calming down his bothered older brother, Alfred Jr. "For someone to call me out, I guess that means they taking notice of my play, that they want to go after me. I want that. I welcome that challenge. If they want to come at me, I'm going to continue to get that work."
Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said Thursday that it is natural for opposing teams to target Boykin. For one, he's a rookie. The fourth-round pick never before lined up against the caliber of receivers - such as Larry Fitzgerald, Victor Cruz and Anquan Boldin - he has over the last 3 weeks.
More important, the options are limited. With Pro Bowlers Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on either side of him, going after Boykin makes sense.
So far, the results have been mixed. He was strong against Baltimore and Cleveland, but exploited in Arizona and against the Giants.
Boykin, 22, has been on the field for 54 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. In the slot, Boykin has been targeted 22 times, 11 of which were catches - nine of them coming in the previous two games.
Fitzgerald netted 53 yards against him, including 33 yards after the catch. Cruz posted 48 yards and one touchdown. The Giants' Eli Manning and Cardinals' Kevin Kolb averaged a 114.15 passer rating on balls thrown towards Boykin.
"I've guarded three Pro Bowl receivers the past couple weeks and we're doing pretty good as a secondary," Boykin said. "We're 3-1. We're just going to continue to do what we've been doing, let all that talking stuff happen.
"I felt like I've done pretty good. I've definitely got a lot of things I can improve on. I'm just trying to fight each and every week."
Brown might not be the only one to face Boykin, as the Steelers could try to push fellow Pro Bowler Mike Wallace to the slot for an advantage. Wallace has racked up 234 yards in three games this season.
For cornerbacks such as Boykin, Andy Reid reminded on Wednesday to cover until the play is completely dead, something essential when facing Ben Roethlisberger. He is tough to bring down and can keep plays alive longer than most NFL quarterbacks.
Castillo praised Boykin's work ethic. With the help of playing inside at the University of Georgia, Boykin has transitioned to the NFL with ease, compared with how long DRC needed to adjust to life in the slot last season.
"He's in here every morning at 7:30 a.m. studying," Castillo said. "I met his parents this past weekend. I can see why he's the individual that he is. Besides being a talented young man, he's very confident; he works hard. Those are the qualities that he has, and it's not his fault it's his first year in the NFL."
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans wasn't surprised about Brown's chatter, but said the "real talking happens on game days."
"Talk is talk," Trent Cole said. "If I was him, I'd love to have that challenge. I'd love to have someone say that. When it comes down to that moment, it doesn't matter who's better or who has the better contract. It comes down to who plays better on that night. Let your actions speak louder."
For Boykin, that's the plan. He graduated from Georgia with a journalism degree. With rampant and instant social media, he knew better than to give Brown and the Steelers any ammunition.
At the very least, he's got a solid nickname to follow him throughout his NFL career - as long as it doesn't define him.
"Of course they're going to test me out," Boykin said. "I expect that every week. This will be no different. Just because he said something in the media, it's not going to intimidate me."