OWINGS MILLS — Anquan Boldin bolted into his pattern, freezing the secondary with a textbook jab step before breaking into the clear to haul in another pass.
The Baltimore Ravens’ veteran wide receiver had a lot of eyes on him as he completed a routine route, particularly a corps of young receivers that look to him for guidance and providing an example on how to play the position.
As the oldest receiver on the roster, it’s a natural role for Boldin.
And Boldin, 31, broke into laughter when asked why he showed up for a voluntary organized team activity this week.
"You didn’t think I was going to be here?" Boldin said. "I felt it was important for me to be here. We have a lot of young guys. I think we’re in a situation where they can learn just by seeing me out there, seeing me working. I felt my presence was very important."
Boldin ran his patterns with a practiced motion and has shrugged off a knee injury that hampered him late in the season and required arthroscopic surgery.
Despite missing the final two games of the regular season, Boldin led the Ravens with 887 receiving yards as he caught 57 passes for three touchdowns and averaged 15.7 yards per reception.
Boldin was amused again when asked about his mentoring role, one he clearly enjoys and embraces.
"I get stuck with that every year," he said. "I think the good thing about it is we have a lot of good young guys willing to learn. You don’t have to say anything. As soon as they come back off doing a rep, they’re asking you, ‘What did you see? How can I improve on this?’ It’s definitely interactive with those guys."
Boldin and Torrey Smith are the Ravens’ starting receivers with newcomer Jacoby Jones the top candidate to assume the third receiver role that an injury-prone Lee Evans was unable to stabilize last year.
The other candidates include Tandon Doss, who’s coming off a quiet rookie season, and former University of Maryland backup LaQuan Williams.
Jones’ size, speed and return skills appear to be good fit for the defending AFC North champions.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder has caught 127 career passes for 1,741 yards and 11 touchdowns, catching 31 passes for 512 yards and two touchdowns last season for the Houston Texans.
"’I’m happy to have him," Boldin said. "I think he’s a good receiver as well as a good returner. I’ve been on teams that have been burnt by him. I remember in Arizona he took a punt back against us that made the game real close. I think just adding a threat like that on the outside is big for us."
"You have a guy with that kind of speed, him and Torrey outside, it opens up a lot of things you can do, me working inside with [tight ends] Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, bringing Ray [Rice] out of the backfield. It just opens up a lot for us."
During Jones’ first workouts with his new teammates since signing a two-year, $7 million contract, the former Texans third-round draft pick displayed a lot of acceleration.
He caught most of the passes thrown his way except for an intermediate throw over the middle from quarterback Joe Flacco that hit him in the hands.
"It’s fun to get back out there on that grass," Jones said. "I think I make that purple look pretty good, too. It’s fun playing with Joe, Anquan and Torrey. Joe throws a nice tight spiral with a nice touch. I love this opportunity and I’m going to play my role. I just need to learn this playbook, get oriented with my new teammates and learn how Joe works."
An accomplished return man, Jones is also slated to return punts and kickoffs for Baltimore.
"He’s done really well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Great attitude, really, really hard worker, very fast, big, physical guy. He’s done a really good job."
Boldin said he didn’t think there was a greater urgency for the offense to score more points following Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs’ torn Achilles tendon.
"We just want to be more consistent," Boldin said. "You saw last year at times we looked great on offense and other times when we didn’t look as good. For us, it’s about coming out here and being consistent."
Boldin said he’s still not over the Ravens’ AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots, a game tape he has intentionally skipped watching.
"Losses like that just motivate you for the upcoming year," Boldin said. "It’s still crazy to me because I haven’t watched the game. I don’t think I can at this point. It motivates you, it makes you work even harder. It makes you concentrate on the small things.
"There’s nobody that could have told me we were going to lose that game until the clock hit zero I still thought we were going to win. There’s no way I thought we wouldn’t go to the Super Bowl. That’s how I feel this year. I feel like we’re going to win it. That’s the great thing about each year. It brings optimism. It brings a fresh start. I like where we are right now."
NOTES: Now that Suggs has had his partially torn Achilles tendon surgically repaired by Dr. Robert Anderson, the next step is beginning the rehabilitation process.
That will begin later next month when Suggs meets with team doctors.
“Well, the situation is that there is a certain time that you have to let the scar heal, the wound heal and that kind of thing," Harbaugh said. "The rehab doesn’t start until all that healing takes place. He is going to have a doctor’s appointment the first week of the minicamp. Then, he is going to come up here, and then we’ll start to rehab at that point.” …
Harbaugh accepted an Outstanding Civilian Service award from Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, on Wednesday in Virginia.
"It was such a wonderful ceremony, special in so many ways," Harbaugh said in a statement. "I also would like to congratulate and honor the other recipients of the Outstanding Civilian Service Award for their unyielding dedication and commitment to this great country’s military. The event, for me and my wife, Ingrid, was a once in a lifetime experience."