Even through the Pittsburgh Steelers rotated in several defensive backs Thursday night in their regular-season opening loss to the New England Patriots, new cornerback Brandon Boykin failed to see the field on the defense. Boykin, who the Steelers acquired in an Aug, 1 trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, was asked about that Monday during his session with the media and he let it be known that he doesn’t know why he wasn’t given a chance to contribute.
“I’m sure they had a reason for that. I don’t know what it was,” Boykin said, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ll just take it in stride and go throughout the week and see what happens.”
Ever since he was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth-round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Georgia, Boykin has played at least 18 snaps on defense in each and every game. With that said, it’s no wonder that he’s probably confused as to why the Steelers failed to play him some Thursday night and especially since the other cornerbacks struggled covering the Patriots wide receivers.
“Anytime you play anywhere you want to play more, or you want to play, just get on the field in general,’’ Boykin said, according to Bouchette. “That wasn’t the case last week. I don’t know why, I don’t know what the deal is or what the reason was for that. I can’t answer that. You guys have to ask coach [Mike] Tomlin and the rest of the coaches about that.”
Mike Tomlin is scheduled to talk to the media again Tuesday and you can bet he’ll be asked about Boykin as it relates to his playing time Thursday night as well as his potential usage in the defense moving forward.
It’s obvious that fellow cornerback Antwon Blake isn’t cut out to be a full-time player, so at the very least, Boykin should be given the opportunity to play in the slot when the Steelers utilize their sub package personnel, as that’s exactly what his role was with the Eagles for the last three seasons.
The Steelers trade for Boykin included them giving up a conditional fifth-round selection in 2016. That selection will turn into a fourth-round pick should Boykin play at least 60 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2015. If the Steelers decided to hold Boykin out Thursday night because they wanted to keep Boykin’s snaps down, shame on them.
Even though Boykin isn’t totally sure when he will see the field on defense in the coming weeks, it sounds like he’ll be patient and that he’ll keep himself ready to play whenever his number is called.
“You have to stay positive throughout the whole process,” Boykin said Monday. “It’s a long season. As I said, at some point I feel I’ll help contribute but I don’t make those decisions. I’ll continue to be out there and work hard.”
The Steelers will host the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Heinz Field and I’m willing to bet that Boykin plays defense in that game.