Ravens Get An Offensive Bully

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On September 28, 2008, wide receiver Anquan Boldin took a crushing hit from New York Jets safety Eric Smith.

The helmet-to-helmit hitearned Smith a $50,000 fine and one-game suspension. It left Boldin with seven metal plates and more than 40 screws to fix multiple fractures in his face.

So after surgery like that, how long would you think Boldin sat out? A month? A season?

Try two games.

That shows you why the Ravens feel Boldin is the perfect fit for not only the Ravens' physically-punishing style, but for the rough-and-tumble AFC North.

"Well for me, it wasn't anything special, as far as coming back," Boldin said of the injury. "I probably would have missed only one game had they let me, but they kind of held me back."

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Boldin isn't the 6-foot-3 monster that Baltimore fans have clamored for. At 6-foot-1, Boldin does, however, carry 217 pounds of chiseled muscle – and he's not afraid to use it.

The three-time Pro Bowler has made a living making tough catches over the middle of the field. He is among the NFL's best at gaining yardage after the catch because of his ability to shake off hits or dish out some himself.

Boldin has even carved out a reputation as a good blocking receiver, which is a bonus for a team that finished fifth in the league in rushing attempts per game. Boldin said he doesn't want to turn on film and see that one of his teammates could have had a 50 or 70-yard run only to be stopped by his defender.

"[Blocking is] something that I take pride in, and I'll continue to take pride in," Boldin said of blocking.

It's not often that a receiver with five 1,000-plus yard seasons says that.

Head Coach John Harbaugh several times said last season that he wants to be known as a physical football team, both on defense and offense. So naturally, after spending some time talking about his wide receiver's toughness over dinner Sunday night, Harbaugh came away "convinced that he fits us just perfectly."

"He's our kind of football player," Harbaugh said. "I think 'Q' feels like he fits the Ravens."

Harbaugh is correct; the feeling is mutual.

"I think it's a place that fits me," Boldin said. "The way that I approach the game, the way that I play the game, the guys that they have here – hard-nosed guys that want to win – they don't worry about the glory or anything like that. Those guys just want to get the job done, and I think I fit in perfect with that."

Boldin hopes to be the perfect fit in the AFC North, a division known for taking no prisoners. The Steelers have had success with gritty wide receiver Hines Ward and the Ravens will now have their own offensive bully.

"The AFC North has always been a tough, hard-nosed conference, and I'm definitely looking forward to getting in there and mixing it up," Boldin said.

The only downside to Boldin's physical play is that it has caused him some injuries during his career. Last season, Boldin missed both of the Cardinals' postseason games with ankle and knee injuries. He has played in all 16 games twice during his seven-year career.

However, despite missing four regular season games in 2007 and 2008, Boldin still averaged 945 yards and 10 touchdowns per season.

Ravens coaches of course hope Boldin can stay healthy. But one thing is for sure, their newest wide receiver isn't going to change his physical style.

"Things like that happen in football," Boldin said of the hit that fractured his face. "But you just need to be able to bounce back, and I was blessed to be able to."

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