Boykin's Status With Steelers Evolving

On Aug. 1, the Steelers traded for Brandon Boykin. He didn't play defense in New England, but expects to play Sunday at Heinz Field.

PITTSBURGH -- Thursday night's opener at New England marked the first time in Brandon Boykin's pro career that he didn't play a snap on defense.

The cornerback for whom the Pittsburgh Steelers traded a fourth/fifth-round conditional pick admitted to some frustration as he watched Tom Brady riddle the Steelers secondary with four touchdown passes in a 28-21 Patriots win.

"Seeing us go out there and not get the job done was a little frustrating," Boykin said. "But you've got to stay positive throughout the process. It's a long process. At some point I intend on being able to help contribute, but I don't make those decisions. I'll just be out there continuing to learn and work hard."

That time might come Sunday in the Steelers' home opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Boykin confirmed that he practiced Monday behind the starters as the No. 3 cornerback, and late in a group interview said, "I anticipate this week to play. I'm not really sure what the reasons were for last week, but it's out of my mind. I'm ready for next week and we had a good day of practice today."

Boykin said he knows and is comfortable with the Steelers defense. It's possible -- with the compensation to the Philadelphia Eagles rising to a fourth-round pick if Boykin plays 60 percent of the snaps this season -- that he was kept on the bench to keep his snap-count down. But a team source scoffed at the idea that Mike Tomlin would think about next year's draft with a game on the line.

"I don't know why," Boykin said. "I don't know what the deal is or what the reason was for that, so I can't really answer that. You've got to ask Coach Tomlin and the rest of the coaches."

Boykin understands that "I'm new, it's a process" and said he intends to "stay positive," but told the media crowded around his locker that he's going to remain calm.

"It's Week One," he said. "Guys are freaking out. That's normal. That's natural. That's how the world works. But for me I can't really have that mindset. I'll be fine. I'll continue to do what got me here and play the way I'm always gonna play. I'll be fine."

While Boykin did practice Monday as the third cornerback -- on a team that used three cornerbacks 50 percent of the time in New England -- he does know that Monday practices are different than practices later in the week when coaches can't waste time sorting through alternatives. Either way, he said he's not going to complain to the coaches. Yet.

"It'll play out as we go along this week and the rest of the week," Boykin said. "I definitely intend on playing at some point. I think that'll be a conversation I'll have if it continues to go this route, but right now I don't know."

Perhaps Tomlin didn't trust a newcomer to communicate and work in sync better than the Steelers' three returning AFC cornerbacks while in hostile AFC territory. But poor communication is what Tomlin got anyway. Boykin was asked what it looked like from his spot on the sideline.

"Just getting no-huddled by New England and us kind of not being ready," he said. "And they took advantage of that more than once, so that was something that we've got to correct and correct quick because it's on film. Teams are going to see that.

"But we're going to get it corrected, and we kind of have. It was good to get this day and be able to watch San Fran play tonight."


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