June 17, 2014 - by
Anquan Boldin adds exciting new element to Ravens offense – Florida State University

Anquan Boldin adds exciting new element to Ravens offense – Florida State University


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Anquan Boldin adds exciting new element to Ravens offense

Courtesy of Gary Graves, USAToday.com

WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Just as Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his family thought they had moved to a more comfortable mid-Atlantic climate, summer arrived with attitude and record heat, reminding him of something he thought he had left far behind.

Not the scorching temperatures of Arizona, where he spent seven seasons playing for the Cardinals. But the oppressive humidity of his native Pahokee, Fla., which is just north of Miami.

"It's definitely been more like Florida, hot and muggy," Boldin said. "But I'm used to it."

It might also prepare the three-time Pro Bowler for the heat he'll face on a Ravens team projected as a serious Super Bowlcontender. Baltimore's offseason acquisitions of Boldin -- who caught 84 passes for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns in 2009 -- and Donte' Stallworth not only provide rising quarterback Joe Flacco two more deep threats, they upgrade a receiving corps including Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton.

Asked of his excitement about adding Boldin and Stallworth, Flacco explained, "they bring different things to the table, they're both great receivers and they're proven. Anytime you bring guys like that to your team, it's going to benefit you. ... I can't wait to get them out here and play with them a little bit come preseason."

Boldin, though, carries the brunt of expectations because he has averaged a 1,000 yards a season thanks to physical play against defenders on routes short and long. And he is just two years removed from the Super Bowl. Boldin's 45-yard reception start up the Cardinals first touchdown in that game.

The 29-year-old, who with Larry Fitzgerald comprised Arizona's wicked receiving tandem, caught a team-high eight passes for 84 yards in a 27-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that stoked the Florida State product's fire to close the deal. Kurt Warner's retirement this spring hurt the chances of it happening in Arizona. That and his desire for a new deal led to his March trade to Baltimore, which signed him to a multi-year contract.

"I just see it (the trade) as the opportunity to win a championship," Boldin said. "The pieces we have in place here, they've always had a great defense and been able to run the ball, but (now the Ravens are) surrounding Flacco with different weapons.

"Right now we have a slew of guys that he can get the ball to, guys that'll make plays down the field -- Donte', Mason, Clayton, three running backs, (tight end Todd) Heap, two rookie tight ends. I think we should be a pretty good offense."

Impressive as last season was for Boldin, whose most recent Pro Bowl selection was 2008, it ended with him watching Arizona's playoff run from the sideline. An ankle injury sustained in a regular season-ending loss to Green Bay kept him from the Cardinals' crazy, 51-45 wild-card playoff against the Packers and their blowout loss at New Orleans.

Certainly, durability isn't an issue for Boldin, who has started 92 of 95 games in his career. And seeing the muscular 6-1, 217-pounder hold his own against the defense during the Ravens' practice at McDaniel College demonstrates his intensity.

"I think definitely adding Anquan Boldin to my team made me want to come back for a 15th year," joked veteran linebackerRay Lewis, who has become fast friends with Boldin.

"Me and Anquan, we joke a lot but (love of the game) is one thing we talked about. If we walked into the street right now we would play against anybody one-on-one, and it's the same thing when you step out here and play football on this field."

Boldin has also built a quick bond with Flacco, hooking up with his quarterback twice a week during the offseason to talk football mostly. Given the close quarters and tight schedule of training camp, they should know a lot more about each other when it ends.

Boldin says he's happy with his new surroundings and teammates and open to whatever role develops on a unit flush with experience. Given his Super Bowl experience, he has no problem taking charge of Baltimore's quest to return there -- no matter how hot the spotlight gets.

"That's the reason you play this game, to win it all," Boldin said. "I've been at the doorstep, played in the Super Bowl and unfortunately I didn't win it. That's the reason I'm playing; I really wanna get that ring and I feel this team has what it takes to get there and win it."

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