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How Can Ravens Match Anquan Boldin's Catches?


Anquan Boldin was the Ravens' top receiver for the last three seasons.

The veteran averaged 62 catches and 879 yards a year during his time in Baltimore. With Boldin now in San Francisco, where will that production come from this season?

The most likely answer is a receiver-by-committee approach. Don't expect a single person to take on a starting job and put up numbers that match to Boldin's.

The Ravens are looking for Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Tommy Streeter and Aaron Mellette to step up in the offense.

The Ravens will look for increased production from all of their top targets, and spreading out those Boldin's 62 receptions will help soften the blow of losing a No. 1 receiver.

It starts with Torrey Smith moving into the No. 1 receiver spot and elevating his game accordingly. He's hauled in 49 and 50 receptions in the last two seasons, and if he can add about 15-20 catches then his numbers will match or surpass Boldin's from the last few years.

The next position to consider is tight end, where Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are both looking to have big seasons before becoming unrestricted free agents. Last year Pitta had 61 catches and Dickson had 21. Those numbers could increase for both players.

The Ravens may use Pitta more in the slot, as he probably has the best hands on the team and is a safety net for quarterback Joe Flacco. A larger receiving role for Pitta could mean about 10-15 more catches for the fourth-year tight end.

Dickson wants to get more involved in the passing game after a down receiving year in 2012. The Ravens regularly use two tight-end sets, and Dickson could see numbers more similar to the 54 catches he had back in 2011. A move in that direction would go a long way in distributing receptions.

Another player looking to get more involved in the passing game is Ray Rice. The sixth-year running back had 61 catches last year and 76 in 2011, and a focus during the offseason was to boost his receptions in 2013. Rice is one of the best dual-threat backs in the game, and he's been a vital part of the passing game for the last four seasons.

If Smith, Pitta, Dickson and Rice all increase their receptions by about 10-15 catches next year, then that leaves only 15-20 catches from Boldin's numbers to be made up by some combination of Jones, Doss, Reed, Williams, Thompson or Streeter. All of the young receivers have shown promise during the offseason, and the Ravens are hoping that one of them can emerge from the pack during training camp.

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