Boykin: 'I'm going to be ready'

Cornerback William Gay's shoulder is on the mend and cornerback Antwon Blake is "managing his thumb injury well," in head coach Mike Tomlin's estimation, which means cornerback Brandon Boykin is still on hold.

"Just waiting for that opportunity, keeping a level head and whenever it happens I'm going to be ready," Boykin said.

Boykin played 10 defensive snaps in last Sunday's 23-13 loss at Kansas City, a game Blake had left briefly to be tested for a concussion and one Gay was unable to finish after sustaining a shoulder injury.

Those were Boykin's first defensive snaps since he'd played two on Sept. 27 at St. Louis.

Prior to that, he'd played nine defensive snaps on Sept. 20 against San Francisco.

That makes 21 on the season and that's not what Boykin initially envisioned upon being traded to the Steelers during training camp.

He isn't sure why he hasn't yet become more than a regular contributor on special teams.

"I don't know, honestly," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and make up something."

His response has been to keep working and stay ready when needed, as he had been in Kansas City.

"I'm not the coaches," Boykin continued. "Whatever they feel is what's going to happen. I can't think about it. I just have to go play and get better every day.

"I want to play, everybody knows that. Everybody knows the people here, we're competitors. We want to be on the field but you have to be in the right mindset. You have to be in the right head space when you actually do get that opportunity.

"If you walk around angry every day, you finally get in you're not focused on what you need to be on. When things kind of transpired like they have I had to refocus myself and just try to get better at something every single day knowing that I'm new here, knowing that even if I didn't walk in here and play Day One you still have to maintain your poise. You still have to go to work every day."

It's been an adjustment for Boykin, who had been a sub-package regular in Philadelphia.

But it's also been one he's been willing to make.

"I've never been in a situation where I haven't played but I knew if that situation ever occurred you have to be in the right head space to make it through and to be prepared," Boykin said. "At any moment everybody knows things can change. I just want to go out there and put my best tape out and help the team as best I can.

"I'm in conversation with coaches every single day. I guess people are looking for a pow-wow or something. For me, it's just kind of an understanding that things aren't necessarily always going to go your way. You can't make a crazy big deal about it. You just gotta kind of come to work.

"Plenty of people have been in a situation where they wanted to play and haven't gotten an opportunity or people are in front of them. At some point things might happen. Help the team where you can and be a team player, good things always happen."

OUT: S Will Allen (ankle), LB Terence Garvin (knee), DE Stephon Tuitt (knee), QB Mike Vick (hamstring).
PROBABLE: Gay, QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee), C Cody Wallace (illness), LB James Harrison (not injury related), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), TE Matt Spaeth (not injury related).

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