Raiders S Boyd impresses in camp, plans to stick

August 31, 2011, 2:49 pm
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comALAMEDA -- He was one of the Raiders' more pleasant surprises in training camp.Just don't tell it to Jerome Boyd. Or ask the safety why after two underachieving camps, he's suddenly practicing and playing like a guy who figures to stick to the Oakland roster when final cuts are made Saturday to get the team down to 53 players from the current 80.
"To tell you the truth, I don't know," Boyd said, when asked what the difference has been for him this time around. "I worked really hard all offseason. I wasn't with the team last year, and that's a lot of motivation to get back and be on the team. During that time, it hurt. But you can't stay inside and hurt. You've got to go outside and work. That helped a lot."Signed by Oakland as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Oregon in 2009, Boyd appeared in one game for the Raiders that year and spent most of that season on the practice squad before making his NFL debut in the season finale against Baltimore. He had two tackles on the kickoff coverage team that day.But last year, he was waived on Sept. 4 and was not re-signed until March 2.In camp, the former college strong-side linebacker has taken advantage of Mike Mitchell's absence due to an undisclosed injury, purportedly to his left leg as he was on crutches last week.The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Boyd is seeing time at strong safety and at linebacker in the nickel defense, covering tight ends. That was the role Mitchell excelled at in 2010."I am extremely comfortable with it," Boyd said. "It doesn't matter. Strong safety, free safety, come down (and) play nickel, WILL (linebacker), SAM (linebacker). It doesn't matter. Wherever they feel they want to put me, I feel like I can play there. Wherever they need me, I will play."Boyd has 11 tackles, including a team-high nine solo tackles, in the preseason."When I was around him a year ago," said coach Hue Jackson, "we let him do some things and it didn't work out. I think he came back more determined, more focused and he wants an opportunity to make this ballclub. So he's working at it each and every day."Besides getting Jackson's attention, they also share a prep alma mater -- Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. Might that serve as a tie-breaker come cutdown day? Again, don't bring that up to Boyd. He simply wants his play to speak for itself."I am getting more looks to do more things," Boyd said. "I have done pretty good so I have earned more time to show everything that I can do."I feel it's gone pretty good. I think this is (my) best performance in three years."