Trevone Boykin was playing in his first NFL game. But the undrafted rookie has been playing football long enough to realize that when you are chucking a jump-ball Hail Mary pass with no time left into the end zone, throw it to the tallest guy on the field.
That’s what he did Saturday to win the Seahawks’ preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Boykin actually had the offense in the wrong formation from the 37-yard line, part of multiple such mistakes the former Texas Christian star made in his debut. But he knew 6-foot-6 Tanner McEvoy was the wide receiver running down the right side to the goal line, against single coverage by a far shorter defensive back.
McEvoy boxed out his defender like a basketball player — which he played at Bergen Catholic high school in Oradell, New Jersey. He leaped and snared the pass for the touchdown. Troymaine Pope ran in the two-point conversion to complete Seattle’s 17-16 comeback victory.
“I’ll take my odds with a 6-6 guy, no matter what, in that situation,” Boykin said with a wry smile.
What kind of route did McEvoy run to win the game?
“Not a good one,” McEvoy said.
“Just trying to get your feet in the end zone, box out, go up and make the play.”
McEvoy was a wide receiver, defensive back and part-time quarterback at Wisconsin, after transferring from South Carolina and a junior-college stint at Arizona Western College. The Seahawks moved him to safety during spring minicamps, then back to wide receiver when training camp began this month.
McEvoy dropped a pass earlier in the second half. But he made a case for a specific, tall-receiver role at the end.
“He hasn’t had that many chances to make big plays for us (in training camp), although we’re trying to find out if he is one of those guys,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He certainly came through today — like we would think. … He makes a couple great plays at the end.”
But McEvoy better excel on special teams. That’s the surest route for an undrafted rookie to make Carroll’s team.
Just ask Jermaine Kearse and DeShawn Shead, to name two veterans who took that route before becoming Seahawks starters.
POWELL GOES “POW!”
Speaking of undrafted rookies on special teams, that’s what Tyvis Powell was in the first quarter. And he made a huge splash.
Powell, from Ohio State, tweeted before Saturday’s game what a dream come true his NFL debut was.
Then he delivered a dream block. His crunching blow to the chest of Kansas City’s D.J. Alexander freed Tyler Lockett for a 17-yard punt return. Powell also sprinted almost 60 yards to down Jon Ryan’s punt on the Chiefs 4-yard line.
Though a replay review determined he batted the ball back in play while in the end zone for a touchback, coaches notice such hustle plays.
In the fourth quarter, Powell caught a deflected pass from Kansas City’s Tyler Bray for an interception. His new teammates mobbed Powell on the sideline for that play.
Jake Heaps, the former Skyline High School star in Seattle’s suburbs, completed 3 of 10 passes for 33 yards. His best throw was his first one, a dart on a rollout right that stuck in the chest of recently signed Uzoma Nwachukwu near the sideline for 9 yards and a first down.
Two of his passes were drops by wide receivers Douglas McNeil and rookie seventh-round pick Kenny Lawler. Lawler is going to have trouble making this team, it seems.
“He did OK. I thought he did all right,” Carroll said of Heaps.
That is usually the always-positive coach’s euphemism for “not so good.”
“He had a couple drops,” Carroll said. “But he was comfortable playing, which is really important. Jake is a solid guy, now. He’s done a nice job for us. He looked like he’s looked in practice.”
SIMON’S OLD PROBLEM
Tharold Simon seems a long way from winning the starting right cornerback job. Jeremy Lane started there, then DeShawn Shead was there when Lane went inside to be the nickel back in passing situations.
Simon, the fourth-year veteran in the final year of his contract, was the No. 2 left cornerback behind Richard Sherman — as he’s been all camp long. Simon had an interception go off his hands when he mistimed his jump and almost created a long Chiefs touchdown catch instead on the play. He had an interference penalty on a third-and-long to extend a Chiefs drive, when he didn’t turn his head around to find the ball down the sideline.
When he’s been able to be on the field — two of his first three seasons have ended with him on injured reserve — Simon has been prone to penalties.
Carroll said he expects rookie third-round pick C.J. Prosise (hamstring) to return to the field this coming week and perhaps play in Thursday’s exhibition against Minnesota. Coaches have been frustrated that their expected third-down running back to catch passes has been out since the first 10 minutes of camp on July 30. … Paul Richardson, playing in his second game since a knee-ligament tear in January 2015 and then a hamstring injury, had five targets on Boykin’s first 10 passes. All were short throws. Three were complete. … Rookie running back Zac Brooks (hamstring) warmed up in full pads before the game, but did not play. So he’s close to returning.