The Bengals posted a training camp report after the first day of training camp wrapped up, hosted by radio play-by-play announcer Dan Hoard. Hoard started off by reporting on a deep pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green in 11-on-11 drills. The video then showed Green beating Dre Kirkpatrick deep down the sideline and catching the over-the-shoulder pass from the quarterback.
Next, Hoard mentioned last year’s first-round draft pick who had zero receptions during his rookie season. “Later [Dalton] found John Ross, who was looking to have a big impact after an injury plagued rookie year,” said Hoard.
The video then showed Ross against Kirkpatrick catching the ball thrown on nearly the same spot of the field as Green’s reception.
“Unofficially, Dalton was 10 for 12 in full team drills, and Tyler Boyd had the most receptions with five.”
Later on in the video, Dave Lapham devoted 10 more seconds to talking about Boyd, saying, “he’s primed for a big year.”
There were plenty of positives to go around on the first day of training camp, which is excellent news for the Bengals. And, Day 2 was pretty strong, too.
It was good to see Dalton connect with Green again, which has been the bread and butter of the Bengals offense since the duo was drafted in 2011. Green had the worst slump of his career in the middle of last season, so we’d love to see him back at it.
It was also good to see Ross finally showcase his skill. Other videos coming from camp show Ross torching cornerbacks all day. That’s why the Bengals drafted him, so if he is finally healthy and ready to go when the season arrives, then he is in for a big year.
But what about the guy who caught half of Dalton’s completions? Boyd may have had the best Day 1, but hardly anyone seemed to notice.
Boyd doesn’t have the name-recognition of Green, Ross, or even Joe Mixon, so its possible that simply not as many people care about him. Maybe because he had such a disappointing season last year his bar of expectations is incredibly low. Whatever the reason, let’s give him the credit that he is due.
Boyd has been working out of the slot for the most part so far, so he hasn’t had any deep catches like Green and Ross. His catches are in the short-to-medium distances down the middle of the field, which, if we’re honest, are just not as sexy. So Twitter didn’t explode with his plays like they did for Green and Ross, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t any less impressive.
“I believe I can play anywhere on the field. I line up in the backfield sometimes,” Boyd said via Bengals.com. “There are definitely plays where I am on the outside. I run great routes. I might not be a blazer, but I know how to get open. I create separation so I’m a guy, I’m a player, I’m an athlete. Wherever they need me to play I’m going to right there.”
Dalton’s passes to Boyd have been thrown into tight windows in a congested part of the field. The Bengals have been missing that part of their offense with Boyd taking a step back last season. That’s what the Bengals saw in his college film, where he gained more than 3,000 receiving yards with the Pittsburgh Panthers. With Green and Ross stretching out the field both vertically and horizontally, Boyd will have space to work in the middle and get those tough yards there.
Now, its only the first few days, and the pads were off, but there is still room for optimism. First of all, Boyd’s chemistry with Dalton is improving after only having 22 catches in all of 2017. After being sixth on the team in targets and catches last year, he was Dalton’s favorite receiver in 11-on-11 drills on the first day. That says something.
Secondly, Boyd isn’t being hampered by anything this offseason: injury or off-the-field trouble. Part of the reason for his sophomore slump was that he only played in 10 games. He was a healthy scratch in Week 2 for reasons that are still unclear. Later, we found out that that Boyd had been hit with some criminal charges from a July incident, even though he denied responsibility and the charges were ultimately dropped. Whether he was responsible or not, the whole incident could have been a serious distraction and caused his focus to slip. In addition to all of this, he missed a four games with a sprained MCL.
It appears for now that Boyd has shaken everything bogging him down and his ready for a big year.
“I always knew Andy trusted me just based off my rookie year,” said Boyd of his Week 17 touchdown that kept the Ravens out of the playoffs. “I always knew we had that connection. He had to throw (it). I was probably one of the only ones open at that time and he’s a great quarterback so he’s not going to miss that read ever. If (Brandon) LaFell was in that situation he was going to throw it there. He did a great job. He let me make a great play.”
Even though training camp is still young, optimism in Boyd is not totally unrealistic. He’s in the best situation of his young career to finally take that step and have a productive season. If the rest of training camp goes well, we’ll be talking about him a lot more.
Marvin Lewis also seems impressed with his third year receiver.
“You can’t tell him he’s not the best player out here. That’s a good thing,” Lewis said via Local 12. “That’s why we picked him. and he’s done nothing since the end of the season last year to not be confident in himself. He went through some ups and downs his second year, but he fought his butt through it and he finished on a very high note. He has approached and attacked this offseason like nobody’s business.”
It’s also a great sign that Boyd was lined up as the No. 2 receiver in drills, ahead of LaFell. Last year at this time, it was always LaFell behind Green as the No. 2 receiver.
As training camp progresses and the pads come on, don’t sleep on Tyler Boyd.