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With fast start at camp, rookie Miles Boykin adds intrigue to Ravens’ young receiving corps

The Ravens have adopted a wait-and-see approach with rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin, the third-round draft pick out of Notre Dame.

In five days of training camp, he has been good. Now, the Ravens are eager to find out how good.

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It’s been hard to get a true evaluation of him because the Ravens have a strong secondary and the other wide receivers have been subpar.

But Boykin, at 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, has stood out nonetheless. He has good speed and he has been beating two of the team’s top cornerbacks in Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey. Now, it comes down to whether he can do it again and again and again.

Consistency is the key to a long life and greatness in the NFL.

“It’s a very positive thing,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said of Boykin. “Miles is taking it one day at a time, progressing well. When you see that, you know what you’re looking at when you see those kinds of plays being made. The potential is there, and he just needs to continue to have a great attitude, which he does. He’ll keep getting better every day. It’s going to be a beautiful thing.”

If Boykin continues to develop, he could be a starting receiver when the Ravens open the regular season, along with fellow rookie Marquise Brown and veteran Willie Snead IV. Combined with two second-year tight ends in Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst, the Ravens could have one of the youngest starting receiving corps in the NFL.

Boykin didn’t put up great numbers while at Notre Dame, catching only 77 passes for 1,206 yards and 11 touchdowns in three seasons. In college, the Fighting Irish used him as a “boundary” receiver, running a lot of quick slants or “go” routes because of his size and speed.

In training camp, Boykin has done it all with some success. He has shown strong hands and good body control, which has enabled him to adjust, attack the football and make plays.

He is faster than he looks. A lot of tall receivers are long striders and it takes them time to accelerate, but Boykin can shift into high-gear pretty fast, which means the Ravens could have two speedsters on the outside in Boykin and Brown once Brown returns from a foot injury.

One major thing that Boykin needs to improve on is route running. He runs each route at the same speed, which is a big no-no in the NFL. A good receiver knows how to go in and out of breaks, which can cause a cornerback to hesitate.

That split-second could be the difference between a game-breaking touchdown or a game-changing interception.

“The biggest adjustment is the speed of the game, how fast the ball is coming and getting in and out of routes,” Boykin said. “But it’s not really an issue because I am working on it day in and day out.

“You watch the older guys and how they run routes with savvy and look at the leverages of the defensive back. You’ve got to be smart and look at film. A lot of the older guys are giving me pointers and have been very helpful.”

Boykin appears to be a bit more mature than most rookies. He appreciates being in Baltimore and possibly competing for a starting job. But he isn’t in awe of the league or any players.

There are no pretenses and he isn’t a rah-rah kind of performer. He is just an unassuming professional who believes he is blessed to be getting paid for something he loves to do.

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“I’m not a screamer, not a yeller or a guy who is going to get down on myself,” Boykin said. “There are some people who think I don’t care because I don’t get into all the other stuff, but I just try to be cool and calm.

“Our secondary is one of the best in the league, and when I was drafted, the Ravens told me they were excited to see me go against our DBs. So when I get into the games, those guys won’t be better than the ones I’ve already faced. And our DBs have been giving me pointers as well.”

Boykin figures he would be further ahead in his development if he hadn’t suffered a hamstring injury during his final season at Notre Dame. He said he played through the injury and even had discomfort during the scouting combine in late February and early March in Indianapolis.

He thought taking just two weeks off after the combine would help, but the Ravens kept him out of all offseason minicamps. Now he is healthy and competing again.

“A few months ago, I was playing with Notre Dame, so I wanted to come right in and show them they were right in picking me in the third round, and I wanted to prove to myself that I belonged and can make a difference,” Boykin said.

“I really can’t worry about what the media or anybody else says about me having a good camp. The coaching staff needs to say I had a good camp. I’ve got to impress them and the quarterbacks so I can get on the field and play.”

But Boykin as a starter presents an intriguing lineup. Combined with Brown, the Ravens could have two vertical threats on the outside, or the Ravens could move Brown inside to the slot and put him in motion before the snap.

The Ravens could have multiple weapons to aid quarterback Lamar Jackson, who had very few speed receivers or big-play wideouts to target last season. Because of his size, Boykin could be a major target inside the red zone and become Jackson’s second favorite receiver after Andrews.

“There are always quarterbacks who can move around and make plays but there is no one like Lamar,” Boykin said. “He is a completely different type of quarterback, a game-breaker. He has speed, but his quickness is exceptional.

“As for me I don’t want to peg myself into any role. I just want to be a complete receiver; cover all facets of the game. If that means being a blocker, I will do it. If that means long or intermediate routes, I will run them. I just want to contribute.”

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