Rookies make mistakes, but the good ones remain unfazed.
Trace McSorley and Miles Boykin both showed resiliency Thursday night during the Ravens’ preseason opener. Getting most of the reps at quarterback, McSorley led three scoring drives during a 29-0 victory and didn’t lose his aggressiveness after throwing a second-quarter interception. It was another step in McSorley’s quest to solidify a roster spot as the No. 3 quarterback.
Meanwhile, Boykin was the most targeted Ravens wide receiver and finished with four catches for 39 yards, despite having a couple passes go off his hands and a potential 17-yard touchdown catch nullified by a penalty.
A third-round pick from Notre Dame, Boykin is a big-bodied 6-foot-4 target with deceptive speed who has the potential to help the offense right away. Boykin has impressed coaches with his playmaking and desire to improve, so it was not surprising to hear him talk about his mistakes more than his catches following the game.
“Personally, I’ve got to be better,” Boykin said after being targeted a team-high nine times. “I’ve got to go out there and have better games. I’ve got to make a couple plays. Obviously, as a receiver, it happens. You’re going to drop some balls. You would rather it not happen at all. You’re going to be defined by what you do on your next snap, not the snap before that. The coaches have faith in me. The quarterbacks have faith in me. They keep throwing me the ball. So, hopefully, I was able to make some plays later on in the game.”
Boykin was targeted often because he kept getting open. The touchdown pass from McSorley to Boykin was wiped out by a holding penalty, but Boykin is a quarterback-friendly receiver that both Lamar Jackson and McSorley are comfortable throwing to.
Jackson drew laughter with his wide-eyed expression when he was asked about Boykin.
“He’s good,” Jackson said. “He’s good. He is going to be pretty nice, man. He stepped up. He dropped the pass, came back, made up for it, scored a touchdown. He is going to be great.”
While Boykin has a clear opportunity to play regularly this season, McSorley’s role is not as clearly defined. A sixth-round pick from Penn State, McSorley has the athletic ability to contribute on special teams, but his primary role is at quarterback.
With No. 2 quarterback Robert Griffin III sidelined with an injury to his throwing hand, McSorley is temporarily the No. 2 quarterback and has taken advantage of getting more reps. He has thrown the ball consistently in practice, and while his stats against the Jaguars were not off the charts (9-for-22, 85 yards), McSorley made some nice decisions and added some positive yards with his legs (three carries,16 yards).
“I felt pretty good,” McSorley said. “Really good learning experience. Made a few throws, missed a couple, so I think it’s one of the things that you can look at the tape, really learn from and take strides on.
“Not everything’s going to go your way. You have to be able to bounce back and focus on the next one; 25 seconds later they’re re-spotting and you’ve got to get the next snap off. Coach [John] Harbaugh talks about it, just taking [it in] stride from this game to the next game.”
McSorley and Boykin have been taking practice reps together since rookie camp, and the chemistry between them has grown.
“You give him a chance, he’ll make a play for you,” McSorley said. “We were a little bit off early on in the drives, but then we were able to kind of catch our stride in that one drive. I think me and Miles have a really good connection. I got to know him a little bit while we were training for the Combine, so I think that’s probably where our connection started up.”
Boykin and McSorley were both happy to have the preseason opener behind them. Things didn’t go perfectly, but they will learn from it.
“There’s going to be a lot for us to learn, so I’m looking forward to getting into the tape and being able to take that, take the coaching from there and be able to improve in the next week,” McSorley said.
Check out the action from the Ravens' 29-0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first preseason game.