Dan Campbell wanted to see baby steps, but Tim Boyle made bigger strides than that
Boyle said he felt “way more comfortable” in his second career start last week against the Atlanta Falcons, and the Detroit Lions backup quarterback could be in line for a third start Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks with Jared Goff battling a knee injury.
Goff did not practice Wednesday.
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“Sorry to be boring, but I feel like I always have to be ready to start,” Boyle said. “I learned that last year with this whole thing going down when I was backing up Aaron (Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers). I had the real possibility of him popping (a positive COVID test) on a Friday or a Saturday and all of a sudden with zero reps during practice, ‘Here you go, Tim. Here’s your first start.’
“I kind of went through that mentally last year of understanding that it’s so fluid with COVID and injuries, I know staying ready is the best way to do it. Sorry for the boring answer, but whether it’s Jared or myself, I think we’ll both be ready.”
Boyle completed 24 of 34 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.
He led four scoring drives of seven-plus minutes and generally played “fast, efficient, clean” football, Campbell said, but also threw a game-clinching interception inside the Falcons’ 10-yard line with 39 seconds to play.
Despite the turnover, Boyle said the game slowed dramatically in his second start. In Week 11, Boyle completed 15 of 23 passes for 77 yards with two interceptions in a 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“I felt like I saw the field really well,” Boyle said. “I felt like I was making quick, almost at times too quick decisions. It didn’t hurt me, but there are opportunities if I were a little bit more patient. I could have had a ball to Josh (Reynolds). I think it was the third play of the game, second play of the game, and then I had another route to (Kalif Raymond) that I could have been a little bit more patient. But in my opinion, I think the fact that I’m working through it and I’m getting through my reads and my progressions is definitely a step up from when I was doing it in Cleveland. But I’ll continue to get better at that as well.”
Campbell said after the game Boyle “needed to show … he was going to improve from the first time that he was able to play a game, and he clearly did that.”
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With two games left in the regular season — and on his contract with the Lions — Boyle may have done enough to earn a chance to return as backup in 2022.
“The cool part is I’m not a rookie so I’m not swimming in terms of mentally and I know what I’m doing physically,” Boyle said. “Right now I feel like my gap of learning, every rep I get is going to be so valuable and so critical, I can really put those in the bank and move forward with them down the road.”