Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers were elated when they heard head coach Mike Tomlin talk about the possibility of Brandon Boykin playing more after the Steelers' secondary got shredded by the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12. After all, the team traded a conditional draft pick, a 5th round pick at this point in the season, to the Philadelphia Eagles for Boykin, and it seemed his time to see the field had finally arrived.
When Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler spoke with media Thursday, he talked about Boykin, but not as a starter. "It's not that we're going to make any changes or anything like that this week," Butler told Ed Boutchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday. "We're going to see how this thing pans out for these guys as we go through the week and we're going to make decisions based off what we see during the week, as Mike said."
Boykin has been a model citizen throughout this entire ordeal, and continues to take the high road when frustration over his lack of playing time could easily find their way into comments to the media. Boykin simple wants a chance, and now the question is whether such a chance will ever present itself?
When asked how the secondary performed against Seattle in Week 13, his answer was poignant and 100-percent correct. "The film speaks for itself," Boykin said of that game in which the defense was torched for 39 points. "We don't make the plays when we need to whether it's on third down or making the tackles we're supposed to make in crucial parts of the game. We'll get better and we know what we need to do to get better. It's just a matter of us doing it. It's crucial times right now, playoff hunting going on. We have to correct the things we had on tape in Seattle."
On Tuesday, Tomlin finally gave fans the reason why Boykin isn't play, which simply is he is better in the slot, and William Gay moves to that position when opposing teams go to multiple receiver sets.
"Since we've acquired him, he's done a nice job of learning what to do, but really he's kind of distinguished himself as an interior corner," Tomlin said. "Well, William Gay has played primarily in the interior and has been rock solid for us, start to finish."
Butler echoed that very sentiment Thursday when referring to Boykin's role on the team. "I think he's better at slot, he's better at playing in the nickel,"
So, will fans in attendance at Heinz Field on Sunday get to see Boykin play defense for the first time in a long time on Sunday night? Don't count on it. "We're not going to put him in there when we think they're running." Butler said. The comment speaks to Boykin's ability to tackle and stop the run, but his play in the secondary very well could be an upgrade over Antwon Blake and/or Ross Cockrell.
Regardless of the "coach speak" fans have heard this week, expect more of the same, in terms of personnel, for the Steelers cornerbacks against the Colts Sunday night.