Ravens' Anquan Boldin isn't bothered by his critics

10-year veteran doesn't let criticism affect his play

October 06, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

Anquan Boldin is not exactly a guy who draws attention to himself. He's the polar opposite of your stereotypical NFL wideout diva. The man blends in so well, he's practically human camouflage.

Take the way he celebrated — if that's the word — his 32nd birthday this week.

"Do anything fun?" he was asked the next day after practice.

"No, just worked [here]," he said.

"OK, how 'bout after you got home? Do anything fun with the family?"

"No," he said. "We just hung out at the house."

Wow. Way to cut loose, Q.

Still, as the Ravens get set to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, it's clear low-key works well for the 10-year veteran.

Sure, in his third season with the Ravens, he's heard the knocks, too — he's not a No. 1 wide receiver, he's too slow, he's too old and so on.

To hear the critics, you'd think the guy would lose in the 40-yard dash to Cee Lo Green. Or that he's ready to check into Oak Crest retirement community at any moment.

Then he goes out and puts up a game like he had in the Ravens' 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns last week — nine catches for 131 yards, including eight receptions for 125 yards in the second half.

And suddenly the critics look at the highlight reel and stop yapping — at least for a while.

"He stepped up big time," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said of Boldin's big night. "He played physically and went up and got some tough, contested catches and really used his body. He was huge for us in that game."

That's the thing about Boldin. His coaches and teammates can't stop heaping praise on him. It's as if he has his own PR firm in the locker room and the Castle offices.

The Ravens talk about his leadership, his smarts, his toughness. They talk about the precise routes he runs. They talk about the clutch catches he makes with those big, strong hands.

They talk about the way he huddles on the sideline during games with fellow wideouts Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, explaining how to exploit a defense, drawing it up on his hand the way he used to do as a kid back in Pahokee, Fla.

And when you point out that Boldin sometimes seems overlooked or underappreciated by fans and the media, the other Ravens seem mystified.

"I know the opponents don't overlook him," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's a star, no doubt."

On the other hand, in keeping with his persona, Boldin is not exactly broken up to hear that he's below the radar of some outside the game.

"I don't care," he said. "I mean, for me, it's more than about getting credit or getting praise. I'm here for one reason, and that's to win a championship. And for me, it's whatever it takes.

"Honestly, I like [being overlooked]. 'Cause if I can just come to work and play football and not have to deal with anything else outside of that, that's a perfect scenario for me."

That's Boldin, the football lifer, the quiet professional who seems to visibly recoil when the television lights wink on and the tape recorders get in his face.

His numbers aren't huge so far this season. He's second on the Ravens in catches (19) and receiving yards (249). But the three-time Pro Bowler is still one of Flacco's favorite targets.

Dennis Pitta, the big tight end, has been targeted 32 times and running back Ray Rice 31. But Boldin and second-year wideout Smith are right behind them, each having been targeted 28 times.

And with the possible exception of Flacco himself, who practically vibrates when the subject is raised, no one seems more energized about the Ravens' no-huddle offense than Boldin.

"It allows us to dictate to the defense what we want to do as opposed to the other way around," he said. "At the speed at which we play, it kind of puts defenses on their heels. Lots of defenses don't like to blitz on the fly with that. They like to get set, see what you're in and run the blitz off of that.

"But when you're in no-huddle, they have a tough time just getting calls, let alone get a certain blitz on."

We'll see how well the Ravens run the no-huddle Sunday with all the noise at Arrowhead. NFL.com lists the Chiefs' stadium as the No. 5 home-field advantage of all-time. It's a goofy stat, as if something like that can actually be measured.

But don't look for Boldin to melt just because it gets a little noisy. Not after 10 years in the league.

It's an autumn Sunday afternoon. And this is what football lifers live for.



Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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