Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin is aiming to help his team take care of unfinished business in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has altered his preparations for the season and encouraged him to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Since he can’t be at the Ravens’ facility in Owings Mills, Md., Boykin recently threw in Virginia with quarterback Trace McSorley, the former Penn State star who was also part of the Ravens’ 2019 draft class.
“You can go out to the park and just run around, run routes,” Boykin said on Glenn Clark Radio April 2. “We can still talk to our coaches so that’s not an issue. I would say the biggest issue is not being able to work out in actual gyms. I think that might be the only thing that’s kind of bad, but other than that you just have to stay in shape by any means necessary.”
As players like Boykin and McSorley work out away from team facilities, it’s unclear how the pandemic will force the league to alter its plans in the coming months. The new league year, along with the accompanying free-agent frenzy, opened as scheduled in mid-March. The NFL Draft will go on as scheduled April 23-25, but prospects’ pro days and in-person visits have been canceled and teams are preparing to do the draft remotely.
Ravens president Dick Cass told the team’s website that he doesn’t think organized team activities will happen this spring and that June may still be too soon to have players at the facility. Cass targeted training camp as a possible return for players, but all sorts of questions linger. Will the virus make a football season impossible? Would the league be open to playing without fans in the stands?
“I try to think about, ‘Wow, what if something happens and we’re not able to play football?’ Because obviously that’s my job,” Boykin said. “Then I’m looking around now and I’m seeing people who literally can’t go to work, people who can’t afford to pay their rent. I kind of think like, ‘Wow, that’s selfish of me to be able to [think about football]. I can afford to pay my rent. That should be one of the least concerns for me right now. I just need to be blessed in whatever we go through and just know that sometimes there’s people going through it worse. So it always helps me get a grip around things.”
To that end, Boykin decided to help out by hosting a virtual meet and greet on Chatalyze April 2 to benefit United Way’s COVID-19 relief funds. Participants paid $20 to register, and all of the money went to the United Way. Boykin said he asked his marketing team about what he could do to help out, and his marketing team didn’t disappoint.
“I loved it. The idea kind of took off from there, and then we kind of planned around it because it was such short notice with everything going around,” Boykin said. “I thought it was a great idea to be able to give back to the community and kind of show my support for everything that’s going on now.”
Should the season be played, Boykin and the Ravens will be looking to build off of 2019. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Boykin hauled in 13 catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie after a big senior season at Notre Dame (59 catches, 872 yards, eight scores). His contributions were part of a 14-2 season for Baltimore, the best regular-season mark in team history.
Boykin said the biggest lesson from his first pro season was “how special a team in the NFL can be when everybody comes together for one goal.”
“I think I was just blessed to be a part of a team like that, especially some of the vets that I played with kind of teaching me what the NFL is about the right way,” Boykin said. “I’m just extremely thankful for that. We look at next season and there’s definitely a lot more things we want to accomplish. The regular season’s one thing, but obviously the Super Bowl’s the goal.”
Boykin touched on some other topics as well …
On Lamar Jackson still having room to grow:
“People who are great players in this league, typically their second year isn’t their best year. He’s not even close to his ceiling, and I think everybody around him knows that. And it’s kind of crazy to think about. What else can he really do? But I would never doubt him. I know that there’s so much more that he has and so many things he wants to accomplish. After being around him for a year, he’s definitely going to accomplish those goals. We’re here to help him with that, and that’s why we were brought to Baltimore. Lamar is just one of those special players that you don’t see often. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win and you’re right behind him.”
On his first impression of Jackson:
“I remember being in camp. I’m pretty sure it was the first day and just watching some of his throws and I’m going, ‘Why the hell do people say he can’t throw? Like do people just make stuff up?’ It was kind of surreal watching him just play. I mean, he’s a great football player.”
On Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool, a 2020 NFL Draft prospect:
“I love that dude. I would be so excited if I had the chance to play with him again. Obviously we played at Notre Dame for three years together. We were really close there, still close to this day, and we still talk all the time. Chase is a great dude. He’d be a great fit with the Ravens just in terms of his tenacity, the way he plays the game. He plays the game the right way. He just brings an element to the game that not many people have seen.”
For more from Boykin, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox