Boykin Has ‘Taken the Next Step’

After emerging as a key contributor last season, Jarrett Boykin will be a go-to target in this year's revamped passing attack.

Jarrett Boykin was talking about his least favorite topic: Jarrett Boykin.

At a position known for its attention-loving players, there's only one reason the Green Bay Packers' third-year wide receiver had even agreed to an interview.

"You get fined for not doing them," he said with a slight smirk.

It's not that Boykin is anti-social. He's smart and engaging when he does talk. He simply doesn't want or need the attention.

"You're not all bad, but it's just, I don't know. That's just how I carry myself," Boykin said. "You guys can write the articles, you can tell the stories, but at the end of the day, I'm the one who has to go out there and prove what I've got to prove."

It is that need with proving himself that has driven Boykin to be the Packers' No. 3 receiver, behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. That would put him ahead of the rest of the pack — including rookie second-round pick Davante Adams — entering the Packers' preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

"Clearly he's taken the next step. I just love the way he plays," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. "He's physical, his toughness, he's relentless. I think he's exceptional at the top of his route. You see his strength and balance to separate from a DB. I think he's had an excellent camp."

More than once in training camp, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has expressed concern about where some younger players are with the offense as the Sept. 4 regular-season opener at defending Super Bowl champion Seattle approaches.

Last week, Rodgers said of his young wide receivers and tight ends, "If you cannot line up right, if you can't get the checks and if you can't get what you're supposed to do every time — then there's no way you can possibly be on the field when I'm out there."

Then, on Monday, Rodgers was at it again.

"You know what? They need to catch up," Rodgers told a large group of reporters at his locker. "I think some of them are playing the right way, and some of them have got to catch up. They're going to need to if they want to be on the field."

Boykin had played only 10 total snaps in the first four games of last season. He didn't play a single snap on offense in the opener and one snap against Washington in Week 2. He hadn't caught a single pass until Cobb's leg injury at Baltimore on Oct. 13.

After a 43-yard catch against the Ravens, Boykin went on to finish with 49 receptions for 681 yards and three touchdowns last season.

"The biggest thing that helped Jarrett is that he became an expert of our offense," Rodgers said. "And he spent a lot of time studying our offense, getting in my ear, wanting to hear what he needed to do to get on the field, what I expected of him in certain situations and certain route concepts.

"And if you're consistently in the right place at the right time, you can't help but make plays. The ball is going to find you.

"We throw to the open guy in this offense, we go through our progressions. We don't lock in on one person. And if you're consistently doing the right thing, running the right route at the proper depth, you can't help but make plays. And that's what happened with Jarrett. The more plays you make, the more confidence you're going to have and that's when you're going to see guys reach and times exceed their potential."

Boykin said he still hasn't reached his. He didn't need the Packers to draft three wide receivers — Adams, Jared Abbrederis (fifth) and Jeff Janis (seventh) — to keep him from getting complacent.

"My whole mind-set coming in was obviously continue to progress, get better and show that I know the system really well," said Boykin, who has three receptions for 21 yards through three preseason games. "Consistency — that was my overall focus, to be consistent in everything I do, whether it be releases, route running, run blocking, everything."


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