Depending which way the coin flips Sunday in Cleveland, Brandon Boykin may be the first Eagle to touch the ball in the 2012 season.
The rookie cornerback has the (sometimes) enviable job of returning kickoffs, something he did quite well in training camp. Boykin’s first real test came a few weeks ago against the Steelers, when he caught the opening kickoff — eight yards deep, no less — and returned it 46 yards.
The play made special teams coordinator Bobby April smile and cringe at the same time. April doesn’t want his return men taking it out from that deep, but the 46-yard result was longer than any kickoff return in 2011.
“I wanted to see what I could get myself and of course the coaches probably think I had more leeway, just because it was preseason,” Boykin said. “They just wanted me to get those reps, but now that the season started, I don’t have that leeway.”
Boykin, a third-round pick from Georgia, is one of the most talented players on the entire roster. The Eagles are counting on him to return kicks, play the nickel corner position and maybe even serve as the gunner on special teams. It’s a lot to ask of a rookie, but Boykin has been in this position before after serving as a triple threat in college.
“I don’t think the coaches are going to put me in a situation where they didn’t feel like I could do it, and I know I can do it,” Boykin said. “You are who you are as a player and if you’re a playmaker, you’re going to make plays, and that’s just how I feel.”
But is there a limit? Or a danger zone, so to speak, when that ball heads toward the end zone and into his outstretched hands?
“There’s no particular number,” Boykin said. “It’s just how high the ball is and how far the people ahead of me are, it’s just really watching my blockers.”