Playmaker: The Rise Of Brandon Boykin

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp

On the basketball court is where Al Boykin first really took notice.

Big brother was a high school sophomore and had grown accustomed to having to drag Brandon along with him wherever he went. On this occasion, the setup was a two-on-two game against a couple of older kids in their neighborhood.

“At first, it started out as, ‘Man, I gotta play with my brother. He’s six years younger than us. It might not be much of a game,’ ” Al recalled. “And then we started playing. He was actually killing the other guy. At that point, it was like, ‘Yeah, you could play, bro.’ It was good. And we just rolled it from there.”

Alfred, their father, saw it on the baseball diamond at a much earlier age.

“When he was 5-years-old, I put him in T-ball,” he said. “And I saw that he understood exactly what he needed to do right away. I didn’t have to teach him or anything. He was just 5-years-old, a little kid, and he loved it. …He was a fast learner. He loved sports.”

In every class, there is a kid who seems to win every race. The guy who plays quarterback and shortstop. The one who’s able to climb the ropes with ease, while others struggle to make it past the bottom knot. The first one picked, and the last one standing.

In Fayetteville, Ga., that kid was Brandon Boykin. Read more »

Cooper, Maclin To Play; Boykin Sits

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Starting receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper will be on the field together for the first time this preseason in a game setting.

Cooper makes his preseason debut tonight against the Steelers. He has been sidelined with a foot injury. Maclin (hamstring) did not fully participate in practice this week but will give it a go. It looks like they will be working alongside Jordan Matthews. The rookie has been splitting reps in the slot with Brad Smith, who is out with a groin injury.

Brandon Boykin will not suit up because of a hamstring injury. We saw him out here jogging alongside the injured Chris Polk pregame. He pointed to the back of his right leg on a couple occasions while speaking with a trainer. Cary Williams (hamstring) will also miss the game. Williams sustained the injury on his interception return for a touchdown against the Patriots.

Polk (hamstring), Josh Huff (shoulder), Jake Knott (hamstring) and Julian Vandervelde (back) will miss the game as well.

Read more »

Frustrated Kelly Sounds Off On Penalties

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

FOXBORO, Mass. — When Eagles players returned to the locker room following their 42-35 loss to the Patriots Friday night, they were greeted by a frustrated and stern Chip Kelly.

“Very strong,” said Cary Williams, when asked about the head coach’s message. “You could tell that he was frustrated. You could tell that he was upset about it. He wasn’t very happy about the way we played.

“He said he’s frustrated about penalties. He said that he wanted us to be better. We don’t practice like that. We shouldn’t play like that. We’ve gotta get our butts in gear and do something about it.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rookie Progress Report

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

From time to time, we like to check in on how the Eagles’ draft picks are doing. With the first preseason game a day away, here’s an update.

Marcus Smith, OLB – He’s been running with the second team at the Jack spot behind Connor Barwin. And in all likelihood, that’s where Smith is going to see most of his action this season. He has looked the part from the first day of camp – long, athletic and can move in space. A couple days ago, he showed some feistiness, mixing it up with James Casey after the whistle. Smith, who has never before been to an NFL game, will likely make some normal rookie mental mistakes tomorrow night, but overall, he appears to be on schedule to contribute. Read more »

Three Leftover Thoughts On the Eagles

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Three leftover thoughts before we head to the NovaCare Complex for practice today.

1. I had previously been on the fence in regards to whether Zach Ertz could really be a breakout player in 2014. The issue, to me, was whether he could be a good enough blocker in the run game to stay on the field. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur had a telling comment on that topic yesterday.

“It’s very important for tight ends, number one, to be efficient blockers,” he said. “You don’t always have tight ends that are just going to knock them into next Wednesday, but you have to be an efficient blocker, especially if your thing is to catch passes. I think Ertz is developing more and more and more. I see his confidence starting to really build.”

Last year, Brent Celek was outstanding blocking in the run game. The point Shurmur is making is it’s OK if Ertz doesn’t reach that level in 2014 – or really, ever. He was drafted because he can be a weapon in the passing game. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Huff’s Learning Curve

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Familiarity hasn’t totally worked to Josh Huff‘s advantage in the early going.

A common belief was that Huff, having played under Chip Kelly at Oregon, would be able to acclimate quickly given his intimate knowledge of the offensive system. The rookie had similar thoughts.

“He walked in here thinking, ‘Hey, I know this offense.’  He’ll be the first one to tell you there are a lot of things that have changed and been added from what he did at Oregon, which he just really had to do,” said Pat Shurmur. “We see a lot more defense.  We see a lot more man coverage in the NFL than they did in college.  So we’ve got a lot of the traditional things in the passing game that you would run at this level.

“So, that kind of shocked him I think initially that this isn’t exactly what we did at Oregon, but he settled in.”

Huff acknowledged that he was caught off guard and had to “re-tool and rebuild” his system. He would hear a play call and his mind would go back to Oregon’s offense so he would run the route that matched the concept from college. It took some time to work through that.

That’s one hurdle. The work load is the other. According to Shurmur, Huff has been given the most to learn out of all the young receivers.

Why is that? Read more »

Expect More Base Looks From Eagles ‘D’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Billy Davis and the Eagles made a decision going into last year’s playoff game against the Saints: Commit resources to stopping Drew Brees,and force New Orleans to move the ball with its ground game.

In the first half, the gameplan worked well as Sean Payton’s offense managed just six points. But in the second half, the Saints got going, scoring on four of five possessions to secure a victory.

In reality, it was a pick-your-poison situation. Against the Saints’ prolific passing attack, Davis wanted Brandon Boykin on the field. But against the Eagles’ nickel package, New Orleans ran 13 times for 84 yards (6.5 YPC).

Fast-forward to 2014, and Davis feels like he has more options – specifically because of the addition of Malcolm Jenkins.

“Absolutely,” Davis said, when asked if Jenkins’ versatility will allow him to stay in base more this season. “I think all of our safeties have the skill set of being able to come down and cover a third wide receiver. I don’t have to put nickel on the field. Read more »

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