Anquan Boldin is the 10th-oldest player on the Ravens roster, but the wide receiver isn’t bemoaning his status in a sport that covets speed and youth. In fact, Boldin is grateful that he is entering his 10th year in the NFL.
“I count my blessings every time I come out because the life expectancy in this league is about three years,” he said after Monday’s practice at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills. “So when you find a guy like [inside linebacker] Ray Lewis who’s played 17 years or [free safety] Ed Reed who’s played 11 or myself who’s played 10, we beat the odds. But I think for us, we’re not satisfied just being on the field. We still want to play at a top level, and I think that’s what our guys are all about. And not just being on the field, but I think in order to play that long, you definitely have to be good at your craft. You have to work on it all the time, but you also have to know how to take care of your body. I think that’s a correlation with all the guys that have been in the league for that long.”
Running back Ray Rice led the offense with 76 catches last season and wide receiver Torrey Smith emerged as the offense’s most effective deep-ball threat with five of seven touchdowns traveling at least 25 yards each. But Boldin was quarterback Joe Flacco’s most productive gainer with 887 receiving yards – a category that he has captained in each of the last two seasons.
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That consistency is what makes Boldin a prized weapon in the offense, according to coach John Harbaugh.
“We talked about young guys the other day, but you have to have veteran guys, too,” Harbaugh said Monday. “You really can’t run a bunch of kids out there either. And you’ve got to have guys that know how to play and have been there and understand the game. It’s a hard, tough sport as evidenced by today’s practice, and guys like Anquan know how to handle that.”
Aside from Jacoby Jones and Logan Payne who are a respective 28 and 27 years old, Boldin, 31, is at least five years older than the rest of the receivers on the roster. And as the elder statesman, Boldin is not afraid to share his knowledge with his younger teammates.
“For me, I kind of pull those guys over to the side and kind of coach them up,” Boldin said. “I think Coach Hos [Jim Hostler, the wide receivers coach] does a great job of allowing me. If I see something, I’ll talk to them. A lot of coaches get offended by that, but he’s a guy that encourages us. When I’m not in, I’m watching the guys and seeing what they’re doing, just trying to nitpick and see what they can do better. But for the most part, they’ve done a great job up to this point of getting into the playbook, which allows them to play fast.”