Quick Links

Ravens tough guy Boldin a real catch for Ravens

201301291255465093413-p2.jpeg

Ravens tough guy Boldin a real catch for Ravens

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Kurt Warner still winces at the memory of the helmet-to-helmet shot that Anquan Boldin absorbed in a 2008 game against the New York Jets.

Then with the Arizona Cardinals, Boldin was attempting to grab a pass from Warner in the end zone when he was knocked unconscious in a nasty collision with Eric Smith.

``It was the most vicious hit I've ever seen, up close and personal,'' Warner recalled Tuesday. ``It made me think about retirement.''

Boldin missed only two weeks, a testament to his grit and fearlessness. But the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder wants to be known as more than simply a tough receiver.

``I look it as, I'm a football player,'' Boldin said. ``Not so much a receiver.''

Boldin has been a key figure in Baltimore's charge to the Super Bowl. After leading the Ravens with 65 receptions and 921 yards receiving during the regular season, he's got 16 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs.

That's why stopping Boldin is a huge part of San Francisco's game plan in the Super Bowl.

``He's very determined to bring his team his championship,'' 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. ``He's going up high to catch footballs and running past people to catch footballs. Strong after the catch, fearless. We'll have our hands full with him.''

Boldin, 32, isn't afraid to cut across the field or challenge a safety by going deep. He can shrug off a hard hit, and also is an aggressive downfield blocker.

``It's hard to put into words Anquan's toughness,'' Warner said. ``I've never been around a player that is as tough as he is. To be able to come back from what he went through in New York ... I've seen him many times being beat up, worn out, having nagging injuries, but he's got extreme mental toughness, too.''

If Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco needs a first down in a clutch situation this Sunday, he might want to do follow the path Warner took when he had Boldin at his disposal.

``When we needed a spark, the first guy I'd look for is 81. Where's he at?'' Warner said. ``Cause he'll make those plays for us. If you're going into battle, that's the first guy you'd pick on your team because you know he's not going to shrink to the pressure, but is only going to rise up and get better in the most critical moments of the game.''

In that injury-shortened 2008 season, Boldin finished with 89 catches for 1,038 yards in only 10 games. He had eight catches for 84 yards in the Super Bowl, but the Cardinals lost 27-23 to Pittsburgh.

Boldin is back in the big game, and he has no intention of losing again.

``You don't want to walk away not holding that trophy,'' he said. ``It's something that sits with you. For me, it's been since that day. I'm glad I got back here, able to make things right.''

After comparing Boldin to Hall of Fame receiver Art Monk, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio rattled off a list of Boldin's qualities.

``He's a complete receiver. He's physical and he's got enough quickness to get open in the short areas,'' Fangio said. ``He's got the body and speed to get deep and out-battle you for the ball, which is a big part of his game. He's a tough receiver to stop. You've got to be able to get up and into him and not let him run his routes, but that's easier said than done.''

Boldin grew up as part of a poor family in Florida, earned a scholarship to Florida State and starred for coach Bobby Bowden. He was drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft with Arizona and set a single-season record for receptions by a rookie (101) and made the Pro Bowl.

Soon after that, he created the Anquan Boldin Foundation, which is dedicated to expanding the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children.

Last year, Boldin visited Ethiopia with former Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald in an effort to help the drought-stricken country.

``For me, it was an eye-opener,'' Boldin said. ``I felt like I had it hard growing up - growing up in a less fortunate area - but once I got to Ethiopia, I realize I had it great.''

Boldin's generosity is evident everywhere, even in the Baltimore locker room. A year ago, he began to mentor rookie Torrey Smith, who has grown into a solid NFL receiver.

``He is the definition of a pro,'' Smith said. ``Faithful, religious, a great father. He has always been willing to help me in any way. And he is one of the great route runners of all time, so I have certainly benefited from that.''

From Warner to Smith, Boldin has a knack for making a positive impression on his teammates.

``It means a lot, because at the end of the day that's really what matters,'' Boldin said. ``The people that you play with, those are the guys whose respect you're really trying to earn. If you can do that, you've really done something.''

Quick Links

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

MORE RAVENS: Tony Jefferson used Madden to make free agency decision

Quick Links

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP