During his Tuesday press conference, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin admitted that the team will have a big discussion this week as it relates to whether or not seldom-used cornerback Brandon Boykin will start playing more starting Sunday night in the team’s home game against the Indianapolis Colts.
After making that admission, Tomlin was asked to talk about what it is he likes about Boykin, who the team acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles during training camp.
“He’s got a good above the neck game,” said Tomlin of Boykin, who has played all of 23 defensive snaps so far this season. “He’s a detail guy. He was a highly productive guy when he came out of school and he’s been a productive guy when given an opportunity in the NFL. I think he had a big interception total a number of years ago.
“Since we’ve acquired him, he’s done a nice job of learning what to do, but really he’s distinguished himself as an interior corner. But William Gay has played primarily in the interior and has been rock-solid for us start to finish.”
If you’ve seen the Steelers play this season, you know by now that cornerback Antwon Blake has struggled mightily this year in both coverage and tackling. While he has made a few splash plays this season, he’s given up far more to the Steelers opponents. Additionally, it’s obvious that the former undrafted free agent is playing with injuries and has been for several weeks.
Tomlin’s reasons for not playing Boykin up until this point are exactly what I have assumed they were for several weeks and they revolve around him only viewing the cornerback as one who can play in the slot, which is of course the spot William Gay has manned in the team’s sub packages all season.
Because of the way that Blake and fellow cornerback Ross Cockrell have both played over the course of the last few weeks, Tomlin finally knows that he needs to explore other options in his secondary, because if he doesn’t, he knows he shouldn’t expect any different results.
Boykin appears set to be a hero of sorts moving forward and while this potential change is probably long overdue, there’s still time for a change to make a difference in the team’s final five games.
Should Boykin wind up playing well, Tomlin will rightly be asked as to why he didn’t turn to the cornerback sooner. That, however, figures to be a good problem for the Steelers to have and hopefully the perceived forthcoming change will go into effect Sunday night against the Colts.