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Bengals WR Tyler Boyd impressing coaches in spring practices

Boyd needs to step up in his third season and so far, he’s impressing his coaches.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd suffered a sophomore slump last year, but if you ask his coaches, they’d say what he’s displaying on the practice field this spring points toward him trending upward this year.

Boyd followed up a rookie campaign of 54 catches for 603 yards with a second-year season featuring just 22 catches for 225 yards. The drop in production was in part due to the fact that he only played in 10 games after having played in 16 during his rookie year.

The 55th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft seems to be back on the right track, though.

“He’s got a really good feel for the position,” said Bengals wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, via Bengals.com. “Very smooth. Catches the ball well. I’m really impressed with him … He ran an in-cut as well as anybody.”

Boyd’s third season will be vital for the Bengals. With everyone giving attention to John Ross’ development and A.J. Green’s continuation as a superstar, it’s being forgotten that Boyd is actually one of the more veteran receivers on the roster, as he has more catches than Ross, Josh Malone and Cody Core.

Boyd was drafted to help compensate for the loss of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in 2016, and he immediately became a focal point of the Bengals’ offense. He was third on the team in receiving yards, receptions and targets, behind only A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell in his rookie year. Without significant production in 2017 and no solid options behind him as a third target, Cincinnati was forced to go more to the tight end position, which wasn’t ideal with the absence of Tyler Eifert due to injury.

In order for Cincinnati’s offense to be successful, Andy Dalton will need his former No. 3 target to reach, and really surpass his numbers from his rookie year, and continue to develop into a prominent playmaker in the passing game.

“It’s like any other job. You show up that first year and you’re trying to figure it all out,” Bicknell said. “You do the best you can. Sometimes you get opportunities and sometimes you don’t. Then the second year comes along and you’re a little bit more prepared. Then, really, it’s the third year in the NFL guys start to progress to their career. Some guys are asked to do it earlier and can. But the reality is I think these guys are right on schedule of progress.”

With his second year being sub-par, that all-important third year will go a long way in determining Boyd’s role and future in Cincinnati. If Boyd does well in 2018, it should mean the Bengals are doing well, too.