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Cincinnati Bengals' Tyler Boyd on Houston Texans' Tom Savage: 'He knows the game'

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Bengals' Tyler Boyd on Houston Texans' Tom Savage: 'He knows the game'
Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton throws a pass to Tyler Boyd in the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland on December 11, 2016. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

CINCINNATI -- The Houston Texans hope quarterback Tom Savage gives them more of a downfield threat when he makes his first NFL start Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Tyler Boyd believes Savage is capable of doing just that, because he's seen it first-hand. Savage was Boyd's quarterback for one season at the University of Pittsburgh, resulting in a record-breaking freshman season for the Bengals' rookie wideout.

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In 2013, Boyd caught 85 passes for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns to break Larry Fitzgerald's freshman marks at Pitt for receptions and yards. Boyd credits Savage for his huge debut season with the Panthers.

"We worked real well together," Boyd said. "Our chemistry was clicking ever since I got there. He trusted me, and I trusted him. He's just a guy that knows the game, studies it a lot and goes out there and plays. He was a very accurate, strong-armed guy."

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Houston (8-6) drafted Savage in the fourth round, but it didn't look like a starting role was in the cards any time soon when the Texans signed Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million deal this past offseason.

Osweiler, however, was benched this past Sunday after going 6 of 11 for 48 yards with two interceptions, raising his season total to 16 picks. Savage came on in relief Sunday and completed 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards in a 21-20 win over Jacksonville as Houston edged closer to a potential AFC South title.

Boyd believed Savage would get his chance in the NFL, one way or another.

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"My initial thought was that he would get that opportunity and that he wouldn't be a starter right away," Boyd said. "But in two or three years I knew he would have an opportunity to be the guy at an organization. Now it's here, and what I expected is pretty much what happened. I hope he controls the situation and takes over."

Boyd didn't offer Saturday as a caveat to his hopes for Savage's success.

Cincinnati (5-8-1) was eliminated from playoff contention with Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh. The Texans, however, can clinch the AFC South crown with a win and a loss by the Tennessee Titans.

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"We can win the next two, against teams that may be in the playoffs," head coach Marvin Lewis told the team in the locker room after the Pittsburgh game. "We ought to win if we continue fighting for each other. We need to win in Houston and get that good taste back in our mouths again."

Bengals players made it clear this week that they are not just playing out the string.

"We going to prepare like we've been preparing all weeks," defensive tackle Carlos Dunlap said. "That's one thing we haven't done in all of our games. In our wins, we've out-executed the other team. That's been the common denominator in our games, so we've got to make it work in our favor the next two games."

The Bengals could have six-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green back this week from a strained hamstring, which has caused him to miss four games. Green, who was named to his sixth Pro Bowl this week, is 36 yards shy of joining Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history with 1,000 or more receiving yards in their first six seasons.

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And, for the first time in six seasons, the Bengals won't be the team with something at stake heading into this weekend. Having little to play for the next two weeks isn't sitting well with the Bengals, who have reached the postseason five consecutive years.

"We don't want to end our season with a losing record or losing games regardless," Boyd said. "We want to let it be known that we're still one of the top teams, whether we make the playoffs or not. We've had a rough year. We want to let teams know that next year is going to be our year."

--The NFL announced Tuesday that Green and Atkins have been voted to the AFC team for the upcoming Pro Bowl.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was voted a first alternate, defensive end Carlos Dunlap is a second alternate and guard Kevin Zeitler is a third alternate.

"A.J. and Geno have been two of our most honored players, and it's great to see them both voted to the Pro Bowl again," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. "They have both had fine seasons. A.J. has been hurt of late, but he earned it before his injury, and Geno has had another strong and productive year."

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Although he's missed four games with a strained hamstring, Green has been voted to the Pro Bowl for the sixth time and is the only Bengal at any position to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons. Only one other Bengal, wide receiver Isaac Curtis, made it for as many as his first four seasons (1973-76). Green has 66 catches for 964 yards and four touchdowns.

Atkins, a fourth-round draft selection in 2010, is in the Pro Bowl for the fifth time in his seven seasons. Atkins leads all NFL interior linemen this season in sacks (7.5). He leads the Bengals in sacks, and he also leads the team in QB hits (23) and tackles-for-loss (12). Atkins has the most Pro Bowl selections of any Cincinnati defensive lineman -- no other lineman has had more than two -- and he ranks second among all Bengals defenders in nods to the game, training only CB Lemar Parrish (six).

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