CINCINNATI (WKRC) - After a productive rookie season in 2016 the first 14 games of the 2017 season were anything but for Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd before he finished the final two games on a high note that he has carried into the early couple of practices of the 2018 training camp.
Boyd was a surprising healthy scratch in the second game of last season then missed games 7-10 due to a knee injury. In the nine games he played through game 14 he had only 12 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
In the final two games, however, Boyd had 10 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown, which was a 47-yard catch-and-run in the final minute of the regular-season finale that lifted the Bengals to a 31-27 win at the Baltimore Ravens.
"The last two games kind of boosted me," said Boyd. "It boosted my knowledge and just the things I felt I could do coming into the start of this year."
He had a great first two days of training camp, working himself open numerous times and catching every pass thrown his way.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was especially impressed with Boyd after the first day of camp.
"You can't tell him he's not the best player out here. That's a good thing," said Lewis. "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."
Boyd said he didn't think the coaches lost confidence in him last season, but he admits his fast finish and having a new position coach in Bob Bicknell have given him a fresh start.
"He studied us before he got here and evaluated us all the same and he told all of us what he liked and what we could do to help this offense," said Boyd. "I think everyone has the same chances."
It's expected that Boyd will work out of the slot with A.J. Green and likely John Ross on the outside, but Boyd doesn't want to be pigeon-holed in that role.
"I believe I can play anywhere on the field," said Boyd. "I line up in the backfield sometimes also. 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. Wherever they need me to play I'm going to be right there."
There is a lot competition at the position, too. Veteran Brandon LaFell and Josh Malone, who is beginning his second season and is also off to a great start in camp, are also in the mix.
"We are loaded in the meeting room," said Boyd. "I think we have one of the top receiver corps in the NFL. In our group we have so much great talent and everybody can do great things at a different rate and with different ability. I kind of don’t look at it like one or two, because guys like Alex (Erickson) or anybody gets in and they are going to get yards, they are going to make a catch and do the same thing you can do. I just look at whoever can stay consistent the most and catch the ball the most and whoever makes the fewest errors will play."
LOT OF SHUFFLING ALONG THE OFFENSIVE LINE: First-year offensive line coach Frank Pollack has done a lot of personnel shuffling in the first two days of camp.
The constant has been rookie Billy Price at center, Clint Boling at left guard and Cordy Glenn at left tackle with the first team. On Friday it was Bobby Hart at right tackle and Alex Redmond at right guard with the first team. On Thursday it was Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle with Trey Hopkins at right guard rotating first team series with Jake Fisher at right tackle and Redmond at right guard.
The second offensive line unit on Friday had T.J. Johnson at center, Hopkins at right guard, Brad Lundblade at left guard, Ogbuehi at right tackle and Fisher at left tackle.
"Everyone is fighting for a job and competing," said Pollack. "I'm giving everyone an opportunity so we're moving around and we've got to find out who's the best at each spot. A lot of guys moving around and getting opportunities to show where they can play. A guy has to play two spots. It's either a tackle has to play guard or a guard has to play center or a center has to play guard. You've got to cross train everybody so when we get thin in practice or a game you've got to have answers."
Pollack said he has no timetable for settling on the starting right guard and right tackle.
"It takes care of itself," said Pollack. "These guys decide who plays, I don't. These guys and their play decide that. It takes as long as it takes."
INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback Tony McRae suffered the lone injury of Fridays' practice when Malone appeared to land on leg/ankle after making a contested catch on deep ball.
McRae walked gingerly to a cart and was given a brief exam once he got there, then was taken off the field for further observation.
Rookie guard Rod Taylor, who suffered what appeared to be the lone injury of Thursday's practice when he went down on his very first rep clutching his right knee and was eventually carted off the field, was seen in the locker room a few hours prior to Friday's practice on crutches.
He later put on Instagram a message that seems to indicate he is done for the season.
Also not participating in Friday's practice: tight end Tyler Eifert (PUP list); linebacker Vontaze Burfict (active/non-football injury list); fullback Ryan Hewitt (active/non-football injury list); guard Christian Westerman (active/non-football illness list); safety Tyrice Beverette (active/non-football illness list); wide receiver Devonte Boyd (PUP list) and cornerback Davontae Boyd (PUP list) .
OBSERVATIONS/NOTES: Friday's practice was held without pads for a second straight day per the collective bargaining agreement, but the Bengals can wear pads on Saturday. ... After rookie center Billy Price fumbled three snaps to quarterback Andy Dalton on a direct exchange on Thursday, Price didn't have a single bad snap on Friday. "We can't have any bad snaps," said Pollack. "One is one too many. He understands that, that's why we liked him and drafted him here, because he's got the right mindset. I like his approach. He came out here and made an improvement and he'll continue to work hard and improve in all those areas." ... For the second straight practice Ross hauled in a long touchdown against veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. This one came during a one-on-drill in which he put a double move on Kirkpatrick, raced well past him and then had to wait a bit to catch backup quarterback Matt Barkley's pass before easily cruising into the end zone. ... Kirkpatrick got some redemption when he intercepted Barkley as he tried to throw a fade to LaFell during a 7-on-7 session. ... Kirkpatrick was also involved in a bizarre play on the final play of practice when he and Erickson had simultaneous possession of a pass and then wrestled for it on the ground for about 30 seconds before Kirkpatrick came away with the ball. ... Rookie running back Mark Walton had the lone fumble during 11-on-11 sessions. ... Linebacker Hardy Nickerson had an interception during an 11-on-11 session when a short pass from Jeff Driskel to Erickson went instead into the midsection of a surprised safety George Iloka. The ball bounced off Iloka and high into the air and Nickerson made a diving catch. ... Undrafted rookie defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones was impressive as a pass rusher for the second straight day. On Thursday he went right around Hart at left tackle and on Friday he quickly went around Fisher at left tackle. ... Kickers Randy Bullock and Jonathan Brown each went 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, hitting from 33, 40 and 44 yards out. ... Friday's attendance was announced as 1,050, which was up from Thursday's first practice crowd of 950, but down from the first Friday of camp last season, which drew 1,300, although it should be noted that was the opening day of camp.
UPCOMING PRACTICE SCHEDULE OPEN TO FANS