Brandon Boykin is learning that trash talking is part and parcel with playing in the NFL. But the calling out of Boykin this week by Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is a curious case. It's either based on a bizarre misconception, or it's simply aimed to rattle the rookie. Either way, Boykin's not taking the bait.
"That's the candy bar," Brown said about Boykin to the Pittsburgh media, meaning that whichever Steelers wide receiver lines up against Boykin will get to "eat him up."
"That's his opinion," Boykin said with a smile Thursday. "That's funny to me. We're just going to continue to do what we've been doing as a secondary and me as well. I've guarded three Pro Bowl receivers the past couple weeks and we've been doing pretty good as a secondary. We're 3-1, so just going to continue to do what we've been doing and let all that talking and stuff, let that play itself out on the field on Sunday.
"You'll see my comeback in the game, it'll be through my play. I'm not going to say anything directly to him. No need for me to."
That's an impressively restrained response by the rookie, whose only Twitter response to Brown's comments was "LOL."
But what of Brown's assertion that Boykin can be feasted on?
"He's all right," Brown said of Boykin. "He's given up a lot of plays. Whoever gets that guy definitely has to take advantage."
According to Stats Inc., Boykin has been targeted 20 times through four games. On those throws, he's allowed nine completions for 103 yards and one touchdown for a 77.7 quarterback rating (which, for perspective, would rank 24th among the 32 qualified quarterbacks in the NFL this year). Forty-seven defenders have been targeted at least 20 times this season. Among those, only two (one of them being Nate Allen) have allowed fewer yards and only seven (including Allen and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) have allowed a lower completion percentage (Nnamdi Asomugha, meanwhile, has been targeted fewer than 20 times, so he does not qualify).
So what exactly is Brown talking about? Let's give him some credit, after all he did finish 15th in the league in receiving last year with 69 catches for 1,108 yards. So perhaps Brown has actually been so impressed by Boykin that his comments are an effort to throw the precocious Boykin off his game.
"I guess for someone to call me out, that means they're taking notice of my play," Boykin said. "I guess that's a technique for him. Maybe he really does feel that way. Maybe the Steelers really do feel that way about me. That will be a good thing because then I'll know they're coming at me and I'll have a chance to make plays.
"I want that. I welcome that challenge. If they want to come at me, I'm going to continue to get that work and continue to do what I have to do. I'm welcoming all challengers."
Whether Brown's comments are meant to be taken at face value or not, it certainly appears like they haven't done anything in the way of rattling Boykin. But the worst news of all for Brown, a Central Michigan graduate, is that he's disappointed the Chippewa community.
"Brown did it?" said a disheartened Cullen Jenkins. "He's supposed to be a CMU alumni. He's supposed to represent the school."
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