In what has been an impressive second season, cornerback Brandon Boykin leads the team with five interceptions and is coming off his first NFL touchdown. But as important as Boykin has been to the Eagles defense, he's been just as vital on special teams, specifically as a gunner on punt coverage.
Time after time this season, Boykin has downed Donnie Jones punts inside the 10-yard-line (Jones has already surpassed the franchise record for punts downed inside the 20-yard-line) in impressive fashion.
"I do (think I'm the best gunner in the league)," Boykin said this week. "I have a great punter; that helps. That helps. But, tracking the ball is easy, especially when you used to play baseball. I feel like I'm the best gunner in the league."
"Oh shoot, he's way up there," said Jones, when asked to rank Boykin among the gunners he's worked with during his 10-year career. "With everything he's done this year, I would say No. 1, without a doubt. He's a real key part of why we're so successful. Even in field punts and coverage, he beats double press, gets down there forces fair catches. He's a huge asset for special teams. He's done a great job.
"He's a big part of why we're able to have success."
In fact, the combination of Jones punting to Boykin is part of the special teams game plan.
"When I hit the ball, it usually goes to the right and that's the side he's on," said Jones. "That's just the way it goes … Not to say that I couldn't do it to the left, but that's just the way we work on it."
The most eye-catching plays Boykin makes on special teams is when the ball appears to be headed towards the end zone on a bounce before Boykin is able to either corral it in the field of play himself or deflect the ball back towards an oncoming teammate.
"It's all about knowing where you are," Boykin said. "Looking up and down, constantly tracking the ball, seeing where you are. After a while, you kind of get a feel for it. It just comes as second nature.
"My favorite one was probably against Washington. It was about to into the end zone and I just snatched it. That was unexpected."