OWINGS MILLS — Early into the Ravens’ preseason game against the Eagles Thursday night in Philadelphia, rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin took a moment to appreciate who he was on the field with.
“It was cool. At one point, it was Trace [McSorley], me, Justice [Hill] and ‘Hollywood’ [Marquise Brown] in the huddle,” he said. “We looked at each other like, ‘Shoot, hopefully five, six years from now, we’re going to say this is the first game that we all played together.’ It was cool from that standpoint. Obviously, you came in with that draft class, so you know those guys pretty well. We have great friendships, so anytime you have that type of chemistry that steps onto the field, it’s going to work for everybody.”
McSorley started at quarterback for the Ravens Thursday and Hill was the starting running back. First-round draft pick Marquise Brown, also a wide receiver, made his preseason debut. Another rookie, Ben Powers, started at guard.
The five rookies all made contributions to Baltimore’s 26-15 win over the Eagles, but it was McSorley and Boykin who connected for the game’s longest play from scrimmage. Boykin caught a pass along the left sideline, then turned and split Philadelphia defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Rasul Douglas, causing them to collide with one another. After running for 20 more yards, he lowered his shoulder and plowed into safety Rodney McLeod, gaining an extra couple of yards after contact.
“Of course ‘Hollywood’ asked me ‘Why don’t you just shake him?’ I said ‘I’m not 5-9. I’ve got to put my shoulder into him, I’m not your size,’” Boykin joked. “That’s been my mentality ever since I was at Notre Dame – just finish the play. No matter what it is, I’m not going to step out of bounds.”
Boykin, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, has a drastically different body and playing style than Brown. But the two rookie wideouts should complement one another nicely.
Boykin has five catches for 83 yards (16.6 average) through three preseason games. He will be a major contributor offensively for Baltimore, and more than likely a Week 1 starter.
“When you watch the film, I’ve been getting open,” Boykin said. “Some plays I haven’t made, some plays I have, but the biggest thing is that I know I can get open in this league, I know I can catch the ball in this league. I know I can play in this league.”
Boykin dropped a pass Thursday against the Eagles, which has been about the only criticism of the talented rookie. He is incredibly sure-handed on the practice field, but has let a couple of catchable balls hit the ground in preseason games.
“Obviously, I’ve got to get better each and every day. Drops happen, I understand that, but for me, that’s unacceptable, especially for the way I’ve played my whole career,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is just getting back to the fundamentals, and that’s what I plan on doing. We have almost two weeks until we play Miami, so just until then, harping on my fundamentals, my mechanics, and doing what I know how to do.”
The best group of defensive backs the rookie will have to line up across from this season is probably the ones he faces every day in practice. Boykin says he gets pointers from the Ravens’ talented, veteran secondary.
“All the time. Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith always pull me aside and say, ‘Listen, you should do this,’ or, ‘That was a good move. I thought you were going to do this, and you did something else’” Boykin said. “That’s something that you don’t see a lot. I’m playing with people who have been in the league for a long time, and they tell me what’s working, what they’ve seen. From that standpoint, I try to take knowledge from everybody that’s out on that field.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig