Miles Boykin isn't caught up in the buzz about Dez Bryant reportedly working out for the Ravens. Nor is Boykin worried about his role entering his second season.
Others may see pressure, but Boykin sees as an opportunity.
There is plenty to like about Boykin – his 6-foot-4, 225-pound size, a huge catch radius, blocking ability and strong work ethic. After catching 13 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie, Boykin has a chance to become a more consistent target for Lamar Jackson in 2020.
Boykin plans to shine this season whether Bryant, the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, joins the Ravens or not.
"Honestly, it has nothing to do with me," Boykin said of the Ravens' reported workout of Bryant on Thursday. "That's their job. My job is to go out and play to the best of my ability every day, and that's what I try to do. Whatever happens, happens. But I've got to focus on myself and this team first."
The Ravens are looking for a wide receiver to step up opposite Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who is looking the part a top-flight wideout. If the Ravens' passing game is going to take the next step, they need it.
Head Coach John Harbaugh and General Manager Eric DeCosta both talked this offseason about their expectation that Boykin will make a big leap in his second year.
"I don't think that there's any pressure. I (don't) feel any pressure," Boykin said. "The pressure should come from yourself, and for me, it does. I want to be the absolute best I can for this team. I have to do what I'm capable of in order for this team to win a Super Bowl, and that's our No. 1 goal."
Harbaugh has been pleased with Boykin's aggressive playmaking in practice and his ability to corral contested passes. He had a spectacular leaping grab over Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey earlier this week. Not every wide receiver with size takes full advantage of it.
Boykin is finding more ways to use his size and strength to gain advantages over defenders. In a receiver corps that also features Brown, Willie Snead IV, and rookies Devin Duvernay and James Proche II, Boykin has the biggest frame.
"Any time the ball is in the air – I'm 6'4", 225 – it's got to be mine," Boykin said. "That's why I'm out there."
"He has a mindset where he wants to dominate at the catch point – that's something he's taken very personally," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, he's worked really hard. You can see the physical aspect of it, but he has to stack those plays, stack those days and make those plays. So, that's what he's trying to do. We appreciate it and I think he's off to a very good start."
Boykin believes the contested catches he's making in practice will carry over into the regular season. He played well as a rookie during training camp last year, but he feels better prepared to withstand the rigors of a long NFL season.
Boykin used the offseason to work on his body, becoming stronger while letting the nagging injuries from his rookie season heal. He built up his leg strength and worked on his endurance. Boykin even caught 500 passes every day off a JUGS machine he purchased this offseason.
"I'm feeling more explosive," Boykin said. "Last year at camp, I was probably hurting at this time, just leg-wise. I think maybe not having OTAs and stuff like that might help my legs right now, but I'm feeling great. As a rookie, you don't necessarily know how to take care of your body. I'm learning from the vets now. My body just feels completely different. I just feel healthier."
Playing for the Ravens, Boykin never has an easy rep going against the Ravens' secondary. On one play, he's being defended by Humphrey. The next play, it could be Marcus Peters or Jimmy Smith.
Trying to get open against cornerbacks of that caliber can be frustrating, but it can also make you a better wide receiver. Boykin is not shy about picking the brain of Humphrey or Peters, learning tips from them on how to become more deceptive when running his routes.
"I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to practice against," Boykin said. "After practice is over, we'll talk about, 'Oh, I saw you did this; I saw you did that,' and we'll just kind of talk things through. Obviously, going to practice against two of the best 'DBs in the league is awesome. Hopefully, when I go into the game, it's a little bit easier. But, man, those guys are tough, and they make it hard day in and day out."
Boykin's ability as a blocker helped the Ravens' running attack last season and there is every reason to think that will continue. But his development as a receiver is important. He was a third-round pick in 2019 and has a year of experience under his belt, unlike Duvernay and Proche, who face the challenge of trying to contribute right away following an offseason that was impacted by the coronavirus.
Boykin sounds ready to seize the moment. To him, it's just a matter of showing what he's capable of.
"I just feel like this is my time; this is time for me to be able to take over," Boykin said. "That's what this team needs, and that's what I'm here for."