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Anquan Boldin: 'I know why they brought me here'

OWINGS MILLS – Anquan Boldin isn't only the Baltimore Ravens' most accomplished, trusted wide receiver.

He's also now become the primary mentor to one of the youngest wide receiver corps in the NFL following the departure of Derrick Mason to the New York Jets. The arrival of speedy Lee Evans doesn't change the equation for what Boldin means to the Ravens' offense.

Since Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte'Stallworth are gone, the former Pro Bowl selection remains the unquestioned top downfield option for quarterback Joe Flacco. "I know why they brought me here," said Boldin, who's playing under a four-year, $28 million contract since being acquired via a trade last year from the Arizona Cardinals. "I don't shy away from things like that."

Last season, Boldin manufactured a solid season that didn't come close to approaching the big numbers he piled up opposite Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona.

He caught 64 passes for 837 yards and seven touchdowns working opposite Mason. This year, the Ravens would be thrilled if Boldin caught somewhere between 80 and 100 passes.

With Boldin and Flacco having a year together to build timing and rapport, their connection should be more potent this fall. Plus, Flacco traveled to Arizona to throw to Boldin during the NFL lockout.

"We definitely feel the chemistry getting better,"Boldin said. "We're starting to see the same things. We're on the same page as far as this offense is concerned. I certainly see us having a better year together." While the Ravens will utilize Evans as a deep threat and rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss as complementary targets, it's Boldin who's being counted on the most.

The 6-foot-1, 223-pounder can move the chains on short to intermediate routes and is still a tackle-busting presence outside or in the slot. "I think he was good last year," coach John Harbaugh said. "The issues, if we had any issues, were team issues. There are always team issues, offensive issues. I expect everybody to be better. Certainly, the fact that he and Joe are together for another year, it should be better." Prior to joining the Ravens, Boldin caught 84 passes for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns and 89 passes for 1,037 yards and 11 touchdowns the previous two seasons. And the former Florida State standout hauled in 102 catches for 1,402 yards and seven touchdowns in 2005.

Statistics aren't what motivates Boldin, though. He's chasing a Super Bowl ring. "I'm here for one reason, and that's to win a Super Bowl," Boldin said. "That's why I was brought to Baltimore. Anything less will be disappointing."

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is counting on Boldin, who didn't catch a pass in the Ravens' 13-6 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles as he was only targeted once. "He's always important," Cameron said. "I think he and Joe their chemistry is growing and it will continue to grow."

And the Ravens are banking on Boldin guiding the younger players. Boldin, 30, did this before with Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet during his Cardinals days.

Approachable and knowledgeable, Boldin doesn't mind lending a hand even if it means being peppered with questions.

"I've been teaching since my rookie year," Boldin said. "So, I'm kind of used to that role. With Mase being gone, it's like I'm the big brother of the wide receiver corps now. I've got to take care of those guys.

"It's like I'm a second coach. The thing I like is they're willing to learn. They ask a lot of questions. Usually young guys stay in the back and hide. These guys aren't afraid to speak up. It keeps you on your toes."

Notebook: David Reed excited to be back on the field Yanda still not practicing

OWINGS MILLS – David Reed didn't want to waste any time staking out his turf after finally passing his physical Monday and being activated from the physically unable to perform list. The Baltimore Ravens' wide receiver is intent on reclaiming his kickoff returner job and contributing on offense after failing to catch a pass last year as a rookie.

Reed underwent offseason surgery on his left wrist to repair a torn ligament suffered last December against the New Orleans Saints. "Felt real good to be back out there with the fellas, pushing, working, bleeding a little bit with the guys," Reed said following a post-practice lifting session. "It feels good to be back part of the team and everything." Reed led the NFL in kickoff return average last season with a 29.3 average and set a franchise record with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Houston Texans.

And the former fifth-round draft pick from Utah is expected to be utilized in that role again. "I think David's certainly got the leg up because he had such a good year last year," special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "When he's fully healthy, we'll get him back in there." Like most kickoff returners around the NFL, Reed, 24, hates the new kickoff rule intended to promote player safety that has made touchbacks a regular occurrence.

"That new rule they've got kind of sucks," Reed said. "But I'm taking it out." Rosburg said there will be a ‘point of no return,' for his kickoff returns, but Reed sounds like he's going to take an aggressive approach. What's the deepest he would consider taking a kick out of the end zone?

"Probably when my back foot is on that back line," Reed said. "Otherwise, if I've got it going forward, I'm taking it out." Reed looked comfortable on the field for the most part, but did drop a few passes. He acknowledged there was some rust to knock off. "That's a starting point," Reed said. However, he emphasized that the surgically-repaired wrist is healed.

"It's definitely back," he said. "It's full-go." Reed rushed once for 15 yards last season. He'll have to compete with rookie wide receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss to get into the rotation behind starters Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans. Plus, undrafted rookie LaQuan Williams has had a strong camp.

"Of course, them dudes been out here putting in that work," Reed said. "I've got to come back and establish myself as being in there again. I've just got to compete. I'm trying to bring whatever I can to the table.

"I'm trying to help the offense, help the team out overall anyway I can. That's what I am. I'm a receiver, So, I want to be in there." Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was noncommittal on how Reed would fit into the equation on offense.

Reed didn't pick up the plays quickly as a rookie. "We're going to have to make some decisions in a couple of weeks," Cameron said. "We don't have to make any decisions today. We'll let him improve, and let the other guys continue to improve and hopefully build some depth. We're putting together a nice group of young receivers." Reed was unsure if he'll get to play Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. "That's up in the air right now," he said. "We'll see how this week goes."

PLAYING FRIDAY: "That's up in the air right now we'll see how this week goes." NOT WORRIED: Despite offensive guard Marshal Yanda missing the past three practices with back spasms, Cameron isn't worried about the veteran blocker.

"He's one of the toughest guys in our locker room," Cameron said. "He's one of the guys you know you can count on." With Yanda sidelined, Oniel Cousins has filled in at right guard.

"Marshal should be fine," Cousins said. "It's not that bad."

Meanwhile, the Ravens have big plans for rookie tackle Jah Reid. He'll either be the starter at right tackle or the primary backup.

"He's in the mix, whether he wants to be or not, period," Cameron said. "In my mind, he's either going to be playing or one or two plays from playing. We're trying to get that point across to a lot of guys. There's no four-year scholarships." If Reid falters, the Ravens could always deploy Yanda at right tackle again after starting him at that spot every game last year.

"That's always a possibility," Cameron said. The Ravens gave up six sacks during a 13-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to open the preseason. "We're going to try to work out the best five in some combination," Cameron said. "It may not be ideal, but it's probably our best alternative."

INJURY UPDATES: In a recurring trend, wide receiver James Hardy didn't practice again. The former Buffalo Bills second-round draft pick has a nagging hamstring injury, which could affect his chances of making the team Hardy declined an interview request, saying he needed to get to the training room. Also not practicing: center Matt Birk (left knee surgery), wide receiver Anquan Boldin, offensive guard Ben Grubbs and running back Damien Berry (ankle).

Boldin was given a day off, and Grubbs, who underwent offseason ankle surgery, took part in individual drills.

Free safety Ed Reed practiced after being given Sunday off. Offensive tackle Brady Bond (left leg) returned to practice. Nose guard Terrence Cody practiced for the second consecutive day after being held out Saturday with a twisted ankle.

"I really don't know what I did to it," Cody said. "I just know that my ankle swelled up and there was pain. I couldn't get that movement. It's better now."

Tight end Ed Dickson practiced again after missing the preseason opener with a pulled hamstring.

"I had to get back out there," Dickson said. "We get the best look in the league from our defense. My leg loosened up and I'm out there getting better every day."

PRACTICE FIGHT: There was a heavyweight fight during practice as Cousins and rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee exchanged punches. It was broken up quickly, but not before veteran defensive end Cory Redding jumped on top of the pile.

BIG HIT: Reid slammed reserve middle linebacker Jason Phillips to the ground with a powerful hit.

ROSTER MOVES: The Ravens signed punter-kicker Jake Harfman to the roster as an extra camp leg to reduce the workload of kicker Billy Cundiff and punter Sam Koch. Harfman was signed as the team cut undrafted rookie defensive tackle Terron Sanders.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens practiced in their indoor facility due to rainy weather. "We would be out in the rain every day offensively if we had our choice," Cameron said. "I thought going in was smart, and I understand why we did that, but we would rather be out in the elements."

…After a long reception by rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith, Ed Reed yelled, "That's a Tweet!" Teammates have been teasing Smith because he's active on his Twitter account.

… Rosburg became the latest member of the organization to criticize the NFL's modified kickoff rule. "I even feel more strongly now that we're losing too much football," he said. "Going into the game I didn't like the rule change, but I understood the reason for it and I respect the reason for it. At the same time, that play is a very valuable play in football. It changes games. It turns field position. Turnovers are involved, and I think it's going to have a profound effect on the way football is played if it's just a tee it up and kick it to the 20. Everyone races downfield, and it's just exercise at that point. I'm sure they're going to assess it in the future and find out if the player safety issues that they addressed are being addressed and how much football we're losing and then be able to balance those two."

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