Boldin a bold one

Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin talks Cardinals and 49ers and gives the details of the hellacious hit that caused him to miss several games earlier this season and required surgery to wire his jaw shut and have seven plates and 40 screws inserted in his face.

Q: You've been back now for two games. How do you feel physically?
Boldin:
I feel pretty good. Nothing…no ill effects from the injury or anything like that.

Q: What about mentally? That was a hellacious hit you took – both the concussion and the facial damage you had. Any reservations about coming back?
Boldin:
None at all. If I felt like I had some reservations I wouldn't be on the field so I felt like when I got cleared I felt good enough to play that I'd be back to myself playing like I normally play.

Q: You're one of the more competitive players. Can you talk about training with Frank Gore and what you see in terms of his competitive nature?
Boldin:
He is a guy that is all about football. Everything that he does revolves around football. Like you said, we work out together and you see the way that the guy prepares. You see his love for the game. That's all he talks about: wanting to win, wanting to get better and he does the things necessary to become a better player.

Q: Do you think you've gained more respect around the league for coming back from that hit and picking up where you left off?
Boldin:
Honestly, I don't know. And that's not why I came back. The thing I was looking at was coming back and helping my team. I think at the time we were 4-4. We were in the spot where we could go up or down. After I went out they won two big games against Buffalo and against Dallas and for me I just wanted to get back on the field and help my teammates out as much as possible. So I wasn't really thinking about coming back and earning everybody's respect.

Q: After all you've been through with the Cardinals, what's it like to be in first place by three games at the mid-point of the season?
Boldin:
At this point it feels good. This is my sixth year and this is foreign territory. Most of the time we've been out of it or struggling or fighting or trying to go in a better direction. But at this point, this year, we're playing a lot better. We're playing a lot better as a team. All three phases of the game: special teams, offense and defense. I know right now it feels good but the thing is we still have eight more games left and we can't just rest on what we've done in the first half of the season because we know as good as anyone – last year we had a team come here, Detroit, who was 6-2 and they lost to us and didn't win a game after that. It'd be easy to sit back and relax and get caught up in the accomplishments you had in the first part of the season, but the first part of the season – it helps get you to the playoffs but it doesn't get you there.

Q: With the kind of season that Kurt Warner has had, how much fun is it to play in that offense?
Boldin:
It's been fun, especially with the way we ran the ball like last week. It's been a situation where we've been able to keep defenses on their heels, like I said, especially when we're running the ball. They really have to pick and choose what they're trying to stop. I think we have a real diverse offense. We have a lot of guys who have stepped up to the challenge as far as making plays, so it's been fun.

Q: Does the vibe around the team feel different than in years past?
Boldin:
Most definitely. And I think the biggest difference is on the sidelines when we're in the game. As opposed to past years, when we're on the sideline now no matter what goes on on the field we always feel like we can win. That's if we turn the ball over, if we get stopped on a fourth-and-short, or whatever. If diversity comes to us, we kind of shake it off and feel like we can overcome it. Like I said, in the past, we've gone through some things and I think guys kind of held their heads down and probably felt like, ‘Oh, that's it.' But, it's a lot different this year.

Q: Are you wearing any kind of a different face mask to protect your jaw?
Boldin:
No, I'm just wearing a mouth piece now. I've never worn one before.

Q: And after the hit what were the consequences of not wearing one?
Boldin:
I don't know if that was the consequences but I had fractures in my face obviously. I have seven plates, 40 screws and all of that so I'm not sure if it was a direct result of not wearing a mouthpiece but I'm not taking the risk anymore.

Q: What has Coach Whisenhunt done to change the mentality of the team?
Boldin:
First, changing the mentality of the team starts at the top. And I think we've done a great job of bringing in coaches – guys with good systems. And he's brought in the right players. Guys that want to win. Guys that are team-first kind of guys. [Who] don't really care about the recognition. Stuff like that.

Q: What stands out against the 49ers defense this matchup, especially going up against Walt Harris this year and last year?
Boldin:
The thing about the 49ers is they're a real physical defense. Real aggressive. They know us well, obviously, because we play them twice a year. We're in the same division. They have a pretty good feel for us. Like I said, physical. They bring pressure. Just because they're 2-6 doesn't mean they're a pushover. From watching film they've played a lot of tough games. Almost beating New York up in New York. Playing the Patriots tough. They've had some real close games that could have gone either way and, trust me, we have a lot of respect for them as a team. Period.

Q: What does it mean for this organization to get the opportunity to play on Monday Night Football?
Boldin:
I think it means a lot. Obviously any time you get the opportunity to play on Monday Night it's a big deal. This is my sixth year and third time I'm going to be playing on Monday Night. The first three times didn't go too well, didn't go the way we planned. But hopefully this week will be different.

Q: How much have Jerheme Urban and Steve Breaston improved this season?
Boldin:
They've been one of the reasons the offense is able to expand the way that we do. Especially when I was out, Steve stepped in and played well in both games that I was out. And he's continued to do that, as well as Jerheme Urban. Whenever his number's called, like last week, [he] comes up with a big play, big touchdown. Those guys have stepped their games up a lot and allowed us to do different things in the offense and move people around.

Q: While your mouth was wired shut, did you drop much weight? Was that an issue?
Boldin:
Yeah. Right after the surgery I lost 10 pounds. But I was able to gain back my weight before I got back on the field.

Q: What's been the reaction from the players following Edgerrin James' demotion? Do the players understand the move?
Boldin:
Honestly I haven't really talked to any of the players about it. I honestly can't say what another player feels or what their take is on it, on the move.

Q: How is Matt Leinart coming along? Any signs of development?
Boldin:
Yeah, I think so. I think he's improving, although you guys can't see it. We're in practice with him everyday, and he's progressing as a player and as a quarterback. I think he's learning from Kurt. The things that Kurt is doing in the game, and I think he's learning from that and improving as a football player.

Q: Nate Clements certainly is a corner you have to look out for on the field – he's physical and able to defend the pass and the run. What makes him such a difficult matchup for you?
Boldin:
He's just been a guy that we've had to pay attention to. He's a guy you have to account for in the run game. A lot of times when you play corners, they're not too involved in the running game but they do have some slice corner looks that we have to be aware of.

Q: Do you consider him a sure tackler when he gets on a guy?
Boldin:
Yeah, I think he's one of the better tackling corners in this league.

Q: As far as the rest of the secondary, it's a very experienced secondary. What do you have to look out for when you have to face that secondary?
Boldin:
I just know that they're a disciplined secondary. You have Walt Harris, a guy that's been in the league, been to the Pro Bowl with me, and he's real solid in what he does. [He will] give you different looks. You have [Mark] Roman who's back there along with [Michael] Lewis, Lewis being one of the more physical safeties in the league. A guy that we really have to account for in the run game. Like I said, Roman – he's a veteran as well. They have some guys back there who have knowledge of the game. You really don't see them out of place often. They're a really solid defense.



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