"My biggest thing," Nelson said, "was to stress, ‘It's just football. The game's not that hard. You played a lot in college.' I mean, he was one of the top receivers in the history of Virginia Tech, and you can't forget what you've done. You just got to go out and play."
Message received. Boykin delivered an eight-catch, 103-yard, one-touchdown outing that led Green Bay's injury-depleted receiving corps and keyed the Green Bay Packers' 31-13 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Sitting in front of his locker after the game, Nelson peppered the unlikely star of the game with a few more words of wisdom.
"‘Hey ‘Boyk,' stand up! And put some clothes on. They can wait,'" Nelson yelled from his own locker, a few spots away from the towel-clad Boykin, who seemed much more comfortable with the attention he got from his quarterback than the attention he was getting from the media. He stood up and pulled on a shirt before continuing to answer questions about a performance the Packers sorely needed that day.
Without Randall Cobb, who broke his fibula on a helmet shot to the leg last week at Baltimore, and James Jones, who injured the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in that same game, Boykin was getting his chance.
Stepping into the lineup against the Ravens a week earlier, the former rookie free agent looked out of sync with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropped passes and appeared unsure on several routes. With just four healthy receivers on the roster – including Myles White, who was called up from the practice squad earlier in the week, and rookie Chris Harper, who was claimed off waivers on Friday, there was more pressure than ever for Boykin to perform as the cliché "next man up." Never mind that Nelson would be blanketed by Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden all afternoon, meaning even more balls would be coming Boykin's way.
But it was a different No. 11 lining up at Lambeau Field on Sunday. And it had nothing to do with the 1929 Acme Packers throwback uniforms the team was sporting.
"I was highly disappointed with the way I performed last week and didn't want a double showing of that this week," Boykin said. "I just dialed in and focused on whatever I had to do to come out tonight and just put myself in a good position to make the most of my opportunities.
Boykin extends for the clinching touchdown. Brian Kersey/Getty Images
"I felt like we were in a better rhythm today. Just a little bit of dialing in and (Rodgers) giving me what he wanted me to do and me focusing on what I needed to do to get an area where he could make a terrific pass."
A terrific pass was one part of the equation. Then time after time, Boykin made the terrific catch – "plucking and tucking" as he described it – including a key first-quarter grab on third down that set up Eddie Lacy's 1-yard touchdown run, and two big catches in the fourth quarter that helped reignite an offense that failed to score on its previous three possessions and lost yet another offensive starter.
Two plays after tight end Jermichael Finley was taken off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury, Boykin pulled down a Rodgers pass near the Browns' sideline, put a move on cornerback Buster Skrine, hurdled safety Tashaun Gipson and was on his way to his first career touchdown – or so he thought -- when Cleveland's T.J. Ward pulled him down at the 1-yard line. If Finley's injury had temporarily sucked the life out of the home crowd, Boykin resuscitated them with that play. Nelson scored on a 1-yard slant on the next play to make it 24-6.
But Boykin got another chance following a Brandon Weeden-to-Jordan Cameron hook-up that pulled the Browns within 11 points with 8:51 remaining in the game. This time, Boykin cashed in on it. Lined up on Rodgers' right on second-and-6 from the 20-yard line, Boykin ran a double-move that got him wide open at the 5-yard line. He caught the pass and turned to find Skrine in his path again, but this time the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Boykin powered through him and extended his arm across the goal line for the score.
"Oh, I was heated I didn't get in there on that first one, that I got stopped at the 1," Boykin said. "The second time around, I was just making sure I wasn't denied again."
There will be no shortage of opportunities coming up. Cobb is out at least another seven weeks with a short-term injured reserve designation and Jones might miss another game or more. Throw in Finley's injury, and Boykin's ability to repeat Sunday's stat line will be more necessity than luxury with NFC North Division clashes against Minnesota and Chicago looming.
"I'm proud of him," Rodgers said. "I know he wished he probably would have got the first long one in (for a touchdown) but he did a great job. He ran great routes, put his feet to the ground, got out of his break and made some big catches. I think he's got a bright future for us."
At the rate they're losing players, the Packers desperately need that to be true.