Thu, 24 Sep 2020

Tyler Boyd's View From The Slot: 'This Year, It Just Feels Special'

Cincinnati Bengals
12 Aug 2020, 21:58 GMT+10

Geoff Hobson

Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who converted three of Andy Dalton's biggest fourth downs as well as a 100-yard yard game from Ryan Finley and a touchdown pass from Jeff Driskel, now has his eyes set on Joe Burrow.

And Boyd, a fellow Alpha, likes what he sees.

"Once he stepped on the field and I saw him, I just felt the energy," Boyd said this week after a day at this Zoom and Boom training camp. "I was super amped how he would be throwing the ball. He didn't prove me wrong. The one thing about Joe is he's done it at the highest level. He got the Heisman. He got the touchdown records. It's kind of expected out of a guy like him."

Until a week from Tuesday, this camp is Zoom meetings and walkthroughs. Then when the pads come on next Tuesday, it goes from Zoom to Boom.

That's the way it should be, too, for Boyd, a relentless two-time 1,000-yard receiver out of the slot. He's one of these guys that can whiff another Alpha a mile away. Not only is there now Burrow, but also Adriel Jeremiah Green, his long-lost running mate on the outside.

"Just seeing him on the field pumps me up. He's one of those guys that allows me to impact the game," Boyd said.

People may forget the first half of the 2018 season, but Boyd doesn't. Sure, he had 1,000 yards the past two seasons with Green missing what amounted to 75 percent of the games. But, remember, when Green got hurt on the last snap of the Tampa Bay win on Oct. 28, 2018, Boyd had just finished his third 100-yard game of the season. That put him at 49 catches for 620 yards and four touchdowns for the year with Green at 45 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns.

Both firmly on track for more than 1,200 yards.

"Having A.J. back is like stealing because you double him, you have to worry about me and John (Ross)," Boyd said. "Or you've got Tee Higgins and (Auden) Tate. We've got so many good receivers it's going to be crazy, in my eyes, as long as we keep everybody healthy."

Boyd doesn't turn 26 until the second half of this season, but he's a whiskered vet as he goes into his fifth year in the league. He's already signed a $40 million deal and when he finishes it in 2023 he'll probably become the fifth Bengal to have 500 catches and the seventh to have 6,000 yards.

"This is A.J.'s first year in the offense. Just like Burrow. He has to figure things out," Boyd said. "Once we all get on the same page, the sky's the limit. I know I've said that every year I played. But this year, it just feels special."

That gets him back to the talent in the huddle, the best, he says, since he arrived in 2016. He believes he and Green can put up numbers like they did in '18.

"Definitely. We were both on pace. That year we would have done damage. My numbers would have been way better. As well as his. We'll see a lot of zone or one-on one. It's going to be hard to double a guy at this point."

Boyd had such a good rapport with Dalton there seemed to be an almost sixth sense thing going on. Just ask the Ravens and the Bills about fourth-and-12 on the last snap of the 2017 season. Or Green, whose diving touchdown catch with seven seconds left in Atlanta in 2018 wouldn't have been possible without Boyd's two fourth-down catches moments before.

But Boyd figures he'll be clicking with Burrow soon enough. He says he had what amounted to three different quarterbacks in his three years at Pittsburgh and he still came down from The Hill as the Panthers' all-time leading receiver. And in the pros he's caught touchdowns from Dalton, Driskel and Finley.

"I believe Burrow is a great leader. He just has to get acclimated," Boyd said. "It will be easy for me to adapt to him. I did it throughout my college career when I was getting thrown to by a lot of different quarterbacks. At the end of the day it's just building that chemistry. Just do what he wants us to do.

"Every quarterback has their differences. I don't have it really broken down yet for Joe," Boyd said. "From the looks of it, he's smart like Andy. Both guys are leading the team. That's one of the strongest traits for me is for Joe to come in and take that role so early. It's tough, but he's a football player. I don't think he lets the hype get to him. I don't think he's a big-headed kid, but he's a kid that still feels like he needs to prove himself and that's what he loves."

Boyd says the lack of a preseason is going to be tough for a rookie quarterback and he knows what that means for practice.

"He has to treat every rep as a game rep and at the end of day we've got his back," Boyd said.

Especially when Boyd takes a look around. Green and Ross on the outside. Higgins coming off the bench. Tate in the red zone.

"Pick your poison," Boyd said.

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