Tyler Boyd was wide open for his 12-yard TD catch vs. the Lions.
DETROIT _ Bengals rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd has come out of the second round making the plays of a first-rounder and now add one of the No-No-Yes!!! variety that only true playmakers can make.
Early in the Bengals' 30-14 pre-season victory over the Lions Thursday night at Ford Field they sent him back to return their first punt of the night from Detroit's Sam Martin. Boyd violated the school-yard code when he caught a punt inside his 10, tracking this one at the 5, before bursting for a 24-yard gain.
"I'm behind the 10 and I should have let it go," Boyd admitted later in the locker room. "I felt I had a lot of room to make up yardage. If I was right, then I just had to make one guy miss and slip it in and get as much as I could. That's the only reason I caught the ball. He definitely outkicked his coverage. I guess I was supposed to let the ball go if it's over the 10, but I felt like I had enough room, enough opportunity to make a play and I got a lot of yards on the play."
Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons may not be as miffed as you think. One of the many reasons the Bengals took Boyd with the 55th pick is because he possesses an alertness and intelligence on the field. And it sounds like Boyd has got Simmons figured out, a man that has had led the Bengals special teams for 14 years during a stretch they lead the NFL in fewest fumbled punts.
"As long as I secured (the ball), I didn't think I would get any criticism," Boyd said.
Boyd says it's no accident he's transitioned so smoothly into the pro game, which in two games now has three plays of at least 20 yards.
"I didn't just bring my skills. I came to work and all I want to do is continue to be consistent," Boyd said. "In the first pre-season game I made one play. This one I made two plays. The next game I'll make three or four, just increasing my performance."
One of the other reasons they drafted Boyd stood on the other side of the field Friday night. When wide receiver Marvin Jones departed for Detroit in free agency to fill the void left by the retirement of the great Calvin Johnson, the Bengals needed a young playmaker to replace Jones' ability to take the heat off the great A.J. Green.
On Thursday, Boyd went step-for-step with Jones. While Jones had four catches for 65 yards, Boyd added two for 38 but he had three things Jones didn't. The punt return, a touchdown, and the endorsement of quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Andy Dalton in the emerging Bengals wide receiver rotation that has yet to have veteran Brandon LaFell as he nurses a hand injury.
"Awesome player, does an awesome job of being in the right place, knowing what to do and how to do it and you can't say enough good things about 'T.B,'" McCarron said. "I mean, he's a workhorse and he listens to everything. If I have anything to say he's always all ears and doesn't question it. He's awesome, can't say enough good things about him."
In last Friday night's pre-season opener, McCarron and Boyd hooked up on a diving 40-yard pass that set up the Bengals' lone touchdown. On Thursday at Ford they manufactured a 12-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half to make it 20-6 when the rookie again figured out the right place and the right time.
Although he wasn't sure what he was looking at as he lined up on his pre-snap read. But the suddenly he was running behind safety Tavon Wilson down the seam.
"I think they were in a Cover Three. We had seen that look in practice and we got the same look and we ran the perfect play to beat that defense," Boyd said. "After (McCarron) said, 'Hut,' I saw people shifting into the zone. I knew I had it. It was as naked as it (looked). I feel like anybody on this team from linemen to D-End would have made that play. I saw how open it was."
Cincinnati Bengals take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in week 2 of the preseason 8/18/2016
Boyd also added what is becoming his obligatory weekly diving catch. He got promoted Thursday to a start with LaFell sidelined and lined up against their slot corner Quandre Diggs on the third snap of the game. Boyd's play is starting to make you wonder if LaFell is going to have a starting job when he gets back because Boyd has clearly been the second best wide receiver behind Green in camp.
He ran a corner route that took Diggs across the field and Boyd got leverage on him even though Diggs was flagged for holding on a play Dalton hung it out there toward the sideline for a 26-yard play.
"He threw it flat so I had enough room to get it," Boyd said. "He threw it where only I could get it. I had to throw my body out there."
Even though Boyd is one of the most high-profile players to come out of the big-time Pittsburgh high school and college culture, he had butterflies when he got the start. But it turns out he always does.
"I had a little anxiety at the start at the line of scrimmage. It definitely had me a little nervous," Boyd said. "Every game I feel like that. As soon as I make a play or a catch the ball, I feel like I've always felt."