Boyd motivated to change perception of Bengals

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Wide receiver Tyler Boyd said he’s tired of the Cincinnati Bengals getting disrespected or ignored by national pundits and even players from other teams. He’s setting out to change that this season.

Boyd, a fifth-year player coming off back-to-back seasons with 1,000 yards receiving, has been vocal lately on social media pointing out the lack of attention for himself, running back Joe Mixon and others on the team.

Now, he is motivated to change the national perception about the talent that went unnoticed on a 2-14 team last year.

“Unfortunately, it sucks, especially for me and Joe (Mixon),” Boyd said during a video news conference Thursday. “I feel like we deserve to be talked about a lot more and other players as well. But I think they treat players in the same category as record, which I understand because you have to win to build that publicity and build that respect for yourself and that’s what I’m all about. So, if that’s what it takes for us to get talked about then it’s time for us to start winning.”

Boyd felt like at least Mixon or him, if not both, should have made the NFL Top 100 this year, especially considering how many double teams he faced the last two seasons while A.J. Green was limited to nine games combined. Mixon missed three games in 2018 and still rushed for 1,168 yards and bounced back from a slow start in 2019 to top 1,000 yards rushing for a second straight year.

The NFL asks players to vote for the best players in their sport each year to compile the Top 100. The fact his peers didn’t recognize him or any of his teammates just further motivates Boyd, the Bengals’ second-round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2016.

“I feel that they have been very quiet 1,000-yard seasons, so that’s why I felt people probably underestimate it,” Boyd said. “End of the day I’ve been in this position my whole life, I always been overlooked, always didn’t get the respect I deserve. Every year I have done played with that chip on my shoulder so I’m just going to continue to build.”

Boyd said he’s ready to take the next step in his career, which he described as doing anything he can to help win games. He’s hoping his touchdown production goes up in 2020, which likely would mean the team is scoring more points and hopefully seeing more success in the wins column too.

Cincinnati ranked 29th in the league in points per drive last year but has weapons surrounding new quarterback Joe Burrow on offense and an overhauled defense with several news players that appear to be upgrades. On paper, the Bengals should be better than 2019 but there’s still much to prove, as Green and John Ross attempt to stay healthy and as newcomers settle into key roles. Ross is currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 list while away to be with his 3-year-old as he and the child’s mother have COVID-19.

“We have weapons across the board, offense and defense,” he said. “Just having A.J. back powers the offense so much more. If we can just keep John (Ross) healthy he is unguardable -- nobody can run with him. We’ve got young Tee Higgins coming in, another bigger guy like (Auden) Tate -- they are kind of similar. It’s just so many pieces we are finally putting together that we didn’t have in place last year. Now that we have everybody rolling, everybody at that key position, guys don’t’ have to overthink and be confused about where their role is and where they are playing at and things like that. I think with all the pieces in place the sky is the limit.”

Boyd has stepped up in Green’s absence the past two seasons but is hoping they create some chaos together for opposing defenses in 2020. The Bengals saw what they both could do together during the first half of 2018. Green was on pace for 1,374 yards before his toe injury occurred in Week 8 of that season, and Boyd likely would have finished with more than 1,028 yards had he not missed the final two games because of a knee injury.

“It’s like stealing,” Boyd said. “You can’t double both of us. You gotta pick one. And whichever one is doubled at the time, we count on each other to win our 1-on-1 matchups.”

The Bengals are just now seeing the pieces of the offense start to come together, as the offseason workout program was limited to virtual meetings and training camp has been a slow progression because of COVID-19 testing and safety protocols. They strapped on helmets for the first time Thursday and will run their first padded practice Tuesday.

Boyd said the offense has looked pretty smooth with Burrow so far, but he looks forward to seeing how it looks with a defense in front of them.

“The No. 1 thing for me in getting the correlation with the quarterback is just the timing and how he puts the zip on the ball and how quickly he releases the ball,” Boyd said. “Secondly, how hard is he throwing it, so how fast do I have to get my hands up and things like that? So far, he’s been on-point to me. Once Sunday comes, I think I can get a better beat on things.”

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