Rookie cornerback Brandon Boykin will start at nickel corner on Sunday in the Eagles' regular-season opener at Cleveland.

Coach Andy Reid said Wednesday that Boykin earned the spot over incumbent Joselio Hanson, who has been with the team since 2006. Hanson was released by the Eagles last season, but was re-signed to a two-year contract by the Eagles on September 7, 2011.  Boykin was a fourth-round pick by the team in this year's draft.

“We just felt comfortable with him at that time," Reid admitted.  "It is nothing against Jose. We have a lot of trust in Jose like we do Boykin. Boykin is a bit younger and possibly a little bit more athletic right now in his career. I’m happy for Jose that he got an opportunity to hook on with the Raiders. He’ll do a great job for [Raiders general manager] Reggie [McKenzie] and the crew out there.”

Boykin was selected by the Eagles with the 123 pick out of Georgia. He finished his college career with 159 tackles, nine interceptions and a sack. As a senior he was the MVP of the 2012 Outback Bowl and was the winner of the Paul Hornung Award.

Boykin is also Georgia's all-time leader in kickoff-return yards (2,663) and TDs (4), and will return kicks for the Eagles.

“It was a matter of confidence in Boykin," Eagles GM Howie Roseman explained.  "We drafted our players, in this day and age in the salary cap era and because of the nature of the salary cap because it’s flat, you need young players to play. We have a lot of confidence in Brandon and I think he demonstrated a lot of those skills during the games and during training camp.”

Both Reid and Roseman saw glimpses of Boykin's ability from the beginning and was impressed with how quickly he learned. The Eagles were shocked that Boykin was still available when the took him in April's draft.  If not for a fractured leg sustained during the Senior Bowl, Boykin may have been a second-round selection

“Joselio Hanson has been a very good player for us for a long time," admitted Roseman.  "He’ll continue to be a good player throughout this year and through the coming years. We just felt like this was a move that Brandon was going to play for us. He was eventually going to fill this role, and he had shown enough that he was ready to go right now.”

The Coach Says...

(Click here to continue reading...)