There is something about preseason football that brings out the best in Tim Boyle. If he ever gets a shot in the regular season, people might find out his impressive arm talent plays there, too.
Boyle signed a one-year deal in March to be Jared Goff’s backup with the Detroit Lions, something he made clear he was comfortable with Wednesday.
He has had a solid first week of training camp, should see significant playing time this preseason, and if his track record is any indication, will leave fans and coaches clamoring for more.
WEDNESDAY’S ACTION: Lions camp observations: How fewer holding flags could help, hurt Lions
THE WIDE RECEIVERS: Tyrell Williams went from emulating Calvin Johnson to following in his shoes
Boyle made the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent with a strong training camp in 2018. A year later, he was the toast of the Packers’ preseason when he threw for 356 yards and six touchdowns without an interception in four exhibition games.
He did not have a preseason last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has attempted just four regular-season passes (with three completions) in his career. But his summer success earned him a cult-like following in Green Bay and caught the attention of Lions executive Lance Newmark, who pushed for his signing this offseason.
“It’s football,” Boyle said. “And that’s the thing, I haven’t really played meaningful football in the NFL, in real games. But when you’re out and it’s just 11-on-11 and there’s no coaches and players behind you, you kind of just, in my opinion, I think you slow down a little bit, and you’ve got your guys around you, and I’m able to react.”
A high school legend who won three Connecticut state titles, Boyle has had a long, strange football journey since.
He played at two schools for four head coaches and five offensive coordinators in five college seasons, leaving UConn after an up-and-down junior season to sit out a year at Eastern Kentucky.
After his redshirt season at EKU, Boyle threw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (11) in his lone season as a starter, but impressed the Packers enough with his prodigious arm to get a shot as a free agent.
He beat out Brett Hundley for the No. 3 job in 2018, then spent the past three seasons as an understudy to Aaron Rodgers.
“I always believed in myself,” Boyle said. “My career at UConn was just up and down. You’re the starting quarterback. No, you’re a backup. No, you’re third-string. Now you’re going back to being the starter. Now you’re a backup. It just — mentally, emotionally, physically you want to get into a rhythm as a quarterback.
“So I always believed in myself. My family believed in myself. … And no matter what my mental state was or whatever position I was on the field — backup, third-string, starter — I always put my best foot forward. So I’m right where I want to be, and I’m glad everything happened, from my UConn days to my Eastern Kentucky days and Green Bay, now I’m here.”
Boyle said he knew his time in Green Bay was up when the Packers traded up to take Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft.
He signed a one-year deal in Detroit this offseason knowing Goff would be the starter, but believing he would have “an opportunity to prolong my career here and help Jared Goff win football games.””Jared’s the starting quarterback of this team,” Boyle said. “I understand that. He’s had a very good career and Detroit’s lucky to have him, and I’m looking forward to helping him win games. But I’m out here to prove myself to you guys and my teammates and myself and my coaches, but that’s an ongoing process. But I’m so lucky and thankful to be here. Detroit’s a pretty awesome city and looking forward to the rest of training camp, I really am.”
Boyle, who has split backup reps with David Blough this summer, said he’s past worrying about how he plays in the preseason, encouraged by the growth he still has ahead and content to “let the chips fall where they may” with his career.
“I feel really good,” Boyle said. “I feel comfortable in the system. Having a lot of fun out here. The team’s rolling right now and, love our quarterback room. The dynamic is amazing. We have fun every day in the meeting rooms, on the field. But right now for me it’s just staying consistent. I feel like I’ve had a good seven days, I just got to stay consistent.”