On the Ravens’ fourth play from scrimmage Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Lamar Jackson faked a shotgun handoff to running back Mark Ingram II and rolled to his right.
Jackson then lofted a pass to rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin, who was able to get behind safety Tedric Thompson and corral a 50-yard reception.
The play, according to assistant head coach/pass coordinator David Culley, was one he thinks Boykin wouldn’t have made in training camp or at the beginning of the season, and it was a sign of the young receiver’s development.
“The thing [Boykin] did on that play — Lamar got outside the pocket, he started running and immediately Miles took off,” Culley said Tuesday. “Early in the year in the first couple of ballgames, I don’t know if that would have happened. And so, that’s just the natural progression for him of now understanding to just play and just react, and I think he’s doing that now.”
Despite catching two touchdown passes in the team’s first seven games, Boykin hasn’t been featured as much as projected after his impressive showing during training camp.
Boykin, the second of the team’s two third-round draft picks in April, has just nine catches for 131 yards. Six Ravens offensive players have been targeted more.
The former Notre Dame standout has played 38% of the offensive snaps, fourth among receivers. But Culley attributed it to the learning curve that comes with being a rookie receiver, as well as the growth of the team’s new offense.
“I think it was a matter of as we started putting in more and more offense and started going into the season during training camp and during the preseason, we didn’t really show a lot on offense,” Culley said.
“And I think the volume got [Boykin] a little bit, which affected him thinking about things instead of just reacting, and I think it was more so of him just being comfortable as he was early when he was just playing and reacting and not thinking about things.”
As for Boykin’s fellow rookie, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Culley expects the team’s first-round pick to be “like where he was before” once he returns from an ankle injury.
Brown, who is second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, has missed the past two games after injuring his ankle against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is expected to return after the bye week when the Ravens host the New England Patriots.
The Ravens offense has struggled to make big plays in the passing game without Brown, who had touchdown receptions of 83 and 47 yards in his first career game.
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Following Brown’s breakout performance in the season opener against the Miami Dolphins, cornerbacks began to line up 10 to 15 yards off him to limit his big-play potential. Coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the offense would have to adjust and put together longer drives if defenses opted to give Brown a cushion.
The running game has continued to flourish even without Brown, but Culley said he anticipates Brown’s return impacting all aspects of the offense.
“[Defenses are] starting to play their safeties a little bit deeper,” Culley said, “which basically just helps us in our run game, and it helps us in the rest of our pass game.”
Nov. 3, 8:20 p.m.
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