Back in early May of this year, the Jacksonville Jaguars—a team with an NFL-low 49 catches among their wide receivers this season—saw it fit to release receiver Jarrett Boykin following the team’s rookie mini-camp.
Five months later and facing a Week 8 trip to Green Bay, the Jaguars likely had to dig up those old mini-camp files to get a scouting report on Boykin, who is expected to see the first significant action of his NFL career Sunday as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
Thanks to a rash of injuries, Boykin—undrafted in 2012 out of Virginia Tech—may be one of just four active receivers. The Packers continue to deal with injuries to Greg Jennings (groin, out) and Jordy Nelson (hamstring, questionable) at the receiver position, leaving only Boykin, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Donald Driver as healthy bodies. Nelson will try out his hamstring Sunday, but his chances of playing appear to be slim.
Boykin said he is looking forward to the chance and prepared for the moment.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to go out there and showcase what I can do,” Boykin said Friday. ”I feel well-prepared. I’ve been working at this all the way through training camp. I have numerous days of practice under my belt, now it’s just time to go there and perform.”
The Packers signed Boykin (6-2, 218) after seeing him in a rookie tryout camp in the middle of May. But thrown into a position group that was and remains one of the NFL’s deepest, Boykin’s signing came through the transaction wire as nothing more than an afterthought. Just a camp body Boykin was not, however.
Over the course of training camp and the preseason, Boykin clearly outplayed former practice-squad receivers Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel and more highly-touted 2012 rookie Dale Moss. He led Green Bay with 13 catches for 166 yards in the preseason, and his overall body of work in August earned Boykin a spot on the Packers 53-man roster as the team’s No. 6 receiver.
Given his situation to begin the 2012 season—playing behind five established receivers in Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Jones and Driver—Boykin was expectedly inactive in each of the team’s first five games.
That has changed over the last two weeks.
In games against the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, Boykin cracked the 46-man active roster and even contributed some snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Boykin has played on 15 snaps, 10 in Houston and five in St. Louis. He has yet to catch a pass or record a target.
Boykin could very well get into the boxscore Sunday.
While the Packers will likely mix in more varied formations, possibly using more tight ends and less four-receiver sets, Boykin could easily match his season total of snaps (15). Helping the comfort level in getting him on the field are Boykin’s quick study of the offense, according to head coach Mike McCarthy, and the Packers tendency to get every receiver versed in playing any position over the receiver-spectrum.
“He’ll play, and he’ll do the same things asked of the other guys,” McCarthy said Thursday. “Boykin can play all four positions. That’s a tribute to him as a young player. He’s been exceptional in the way he’s picked it up. This will be a great opportunity.”
Boykin echoed those thoughts.
“In this offense, with the way you learn the plays, once you get the concepts down you’re able to move all over the field,” Boykin said when asked which receiver position he had received the most work at. “Basically, once you learn what you got to do, you can go anywhere.”
11 total players have caught a pass this season for the Packers. It’s only fitting that Boykin could make it 12 Sunday, against a team so short on receiving talent but so comfortable in cutting him after less than two weeks on the roster.
An axe to grind? Sure.
“I would say there is a little extra,” Boykin said about playing his former team Sunday. “But that’s not really my main focus, trying to prove to them. I’m focusing on going out there and playing well and helping this team win.”