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Can Boykin, Carroll Challenge To Start In '15?

Posted Jan 18, 2015

There's nothing football fans love more than to seek out what lies ahead next for their team. The next big thing at any given position is always the hottest topic.

Cornerbacks Brandon Boykin and Nolan Carroll II have the chance to be the future of the cornerback positions for the Eagles, at 24 and 27 years old, respectively. This season Boykin played the nickel cornerback all year long, while Carroll played the dime linebacker role.

In the final game of the season Carroll had a chance to start at cornerback in place of an injured Bradley Fletcher, and after a few early-game jitters the fifth-year defensive back settled in to playing on the outside once again.

"For me, it was really just getting my feet back under me," Carroll said. "Playing on the outside, that was a thing I wasn't comfortable with at first, but once the game went on I was fine. Everything came back to me, muscle memory and all that good stuff, and I just played confident the whole way."

Confidence is a big thing for Carroll; he said at the end of the season that the need for confidence is the most important thing he took away from his first season as an Eagle.

"You always have to stay positive and always look forward to the next play," Carroll explained. "That's the one thing that matters the most. If you keep thinking about the last play, that's going to affect your performance in the future."

If Carroll and Boykin plan on competing for starting cornerback jobs in 2015, confidence will be necessary. This past season, the Eagles' struggles against opposing quarterbacks and explosive receivers were well-documented. They finished second-to-last in passing yards allowed per game, a number that has to improve for the team's Super Bowl dreams to be realized next year.

As the Eagles look for answers to a frustrating season in defending the pass, Carroll and Boykin could assert themselves as potential solutions. They know what they have to do to help the Eagles' defense regain a foothold among the league's best.

"I think we have to focus on the details," Boykin explained, plainly. "I think that's pretty much the only thing that's missing, in my opinion, is the details.

"We've got a bunch of talented guys, we work hard and we do the right things. But in the key situations we don't get that play or we don't make the play that we need, and it comes down to just the details and the fundamentals, every single play. It's real cliche to say we need to take it one play at a time, but that's legitimately what it is in this league.

"You see games that always come down to the end, to the fourth quarter. Nobody wins by a big margin in this league. I think it's just a couple of plays here and there, and we could be looking at us having a first-round bye, or being in the playoffs or whatever it is. Those are the things that I think we need to work on, and I'll be working on, specifically, this offseason."

To Carroll, the most important detail the Eagles' secondary needs to look at and focus on heading into next year is the deep ball and limiting the explosive plays.

"We have to be conscious of keeping everything in front of us," Carroll said. "We always have that mentality, and that's the one thing we have to keep in mind is to never get beat. Never get beat over the top. Always try to keep things in front of you and always try to be competitive, every single snap.

"I think going into next year we've got to have that mentality more consistently than we did this year."

Why do Boykin and Carroll seem so confident in the secondary's ability to bounce back next season?

For one, they both believe in the men assembled in the cornerback room.

"I think we developed chemistry this season," Boykin said of the team's defensive backs. "I think we started off kind of slow, turnover-wise. Malcolm (Jenkins) had three big ones early, and then we picked it up a little bit later in the end. I think we had some good games winding down."

And the pair's confidence also comes from what they've seen from their coaches, their teammates and everybody that works day in and day out to help each player get better.

"I think it's good here. Everybody's close," Carroll said, after his first year in Philadelphia. "We all feel like brothers and we all feel like a family, because we spend so much time together and everybody's supportive of each other."

From confidence comes solid, steady improvement. With the confidence that both Carroll and Boykin are feeling as they head into the offseason, only good things can come when they return.

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