In today’s NFL – which has evolved considerably since their
sole Super Bowl win – the Ravens can’t have a struggling offense and expect to hoist
the Lombardi trophy in February.
Many headlines have been made about Ray Rice’s contract
situation and many national talking heads have doubted Joe Flacco’s abilities
under center but the one thing that could cure most of the Ravens offensive
struggles is improved play from the wide receiving corp.
At this point in his career, Anquan Boldin is best suited to
be a slot receiver but without a lot of depth on the 2011 roster, Boldin often found
himself outside the numbers, along with rookie Torrey Smith.
Smith had one of the most memorable games in NFL history as
he caught three touchdowns on his first three catches in the first quarter of
the Ravens third game against the St. Louis Rams. This was immediately on the
heels of being shut out for the first two games of his career. Hearing what
Boldin had to say yesterday about how important mini-camps are, Smith’s slow
start may make a bit more sense.
“I think the good thing this year is that they got a chance
to get in earlier this year and learn the offense. Unfortunately, last year we
were going through the lockout and those guys didn’t get the same opportunities
but the rookies have been here from the start of offseason workouts and they
got a chance to grasp the offense,” Boldin said.
According to Boldin, unlike the situation Smith and fellow
rookie Tandon Doss found themselves in last year, “guys are able to play right
now as opposed to thinking about it.”
Smith is now the Ravens’ primary threat at wide out and has
had plenty of time to acclimate himself to Cam Cameron’s offense and to quarterback
Joe Flacco’s strengths and weaknesses.
When asked if this group is the best WR corps he’s played
with in Baltimore, Boldin seemed optimistic.
“From an overall standpoint, I would say yeah”. They’re
talented and hungry, any time you have a bunch of guys that’s competing for two
[or] three jobs you’re going to bring out the best in them and that’s what I
think it’s doing.”
Despite the sloppy conditions at the first day of mini-camp,
Boldin was also impressed with his quarterback.
“I thought he looked real good, especially throwing in the
rain. The ball was still pinpoint and he didn’t have any problems. Most
quarterbacks have problems throwing different routes throwing in the rain but
if you just looked at him, you couldn’t tell he was throwing in the rain.”
Flacco has been at all of the team’s offseason workouts,
starting with Day 1 of voluntary mini-camps. In Boldin’s eyes, that type of
leadership-by-example can set the tone for the entire team.
“I think it sets a precedent; he’s a leader on this team.
Whenever you have a leader like that, guys want to look up to him and guys want
to emulate what he’s doing. He’s had success in this league and in order for
them to have success, they’ve got to see guys that are successful, that’s the
precedent that he’s shown. “
Entering his tenth NFL season (his third in Baltimore), the
veteran wide receiver knows just what it takes to prepare for the grueling
“For me I come in every year with something different to
work on. You’re never at a point in your career where you get satisfied with
what you’re doing and where you’re at. For me I continue to work on things day
in and day out, I look at a lot of film, I watch myself on film and if there’s
a certain way I come out of a route, it’s definitely something I take into
account and work on in the offseason.”