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Boldin assumes leadership role among Ravens WRs

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP)

As he prepares for his second season with the Baltimore Ravens, Anquan Boldin's responsibilities extend beyond merely catching passes from Joe Flacco.

When the Ravens cut 37-year-old wide receiver Derrick Mason and 10-year veteran Todd Heap last week, Boldin became the oldest and most experienced receiver on the team. With the exception of running back Ray Rice, no other player on the current roster had more than 11 catches with Baltimore last year.

Thus, the 30-year-old Boldin has assumed the role of teacher and coach to those around him, including second-round draft pick Torrey Smith, newcomer James Hardy and second-year tight end Ed Dickson, who's taken over for Heap.

''With Mason being gone, I'm the big brother of the receiver corps now,'' Boldin said. ''I've got to take care of those guys and make sure they know what they're doing.''

Boldin laughingly contends he's been teaching those around him since his rookie year with Arizona. This year, however, he truly is the old man of the bunch.

''There's times when I pull them aside and let them know, `Watch out for this,' or, `Do this,' or, `Try this,' or, `This helped me,' or, `This works,''' Boldin said. ''So it's like I'm a second coach, almost. You've got to help those guys out, because the better they are, the better we'll be as a team.''

Smith, Baltimore's second-round choice out of Maryland, didn't have benefit of going through minicamps because of the NFL lockout. So he's learning on the fly at training camp, with no small assist from Boldin.

''He helps us out with everything from alignments to assignments to understanding how to run routes,'' Smith said. ''We're lucky to be able to learn from him. There have been times I line up and say, `Anquan, what do I have?' And he says, `You got this.' We get back the huddle and he's like nothing's happened. He's such a cool, calm guy. You can tell he doesn't mind.''

After being traded from Arizona to Baltimore in March 2010, Boldin blended seamlessly with Mason and Heap. He led the Ravens in catches (64) and yards receiving (837) and tied for the team lead with seven touchdowns.

All those numbers should rise this season, even if the Ravens do bring Mason back. Although Boldin and Flacco were a productive tandem in 2010, the hope is that the duo will be even more effective this season

''Certainly, the fact that he and Joe are together for another year, it should be better,'' coach John Harbaugh said.

''Me and Joe? Even though we didn't have this offseason together, we got out there a couple times and threw around,'' Boldin said. ''But we definitely feel the chemistry getting better. We're starting to see the same things and we're on the same page as far as this offense is concerned. So, I definitely see us having a better year together.''

Boldin's 64 catches in 2010 were his second-fewest in a single season; he had only 56 in his injury-riddled second year with the Cardinals.

Boldin wanted out of Arizona in part because he was tired of being overshadowed by Larry Fitzgerald. He now is clearly the go-to receiver in this offense, but Boldin's goal this season has nothing to do with catches and touchdowns.

''I'm here for one reason, and that's to win a Super Bowl,'' he said. ''That's why I was brought to Baltimore. So anything less, I'm disappointed.''

NOTES: The Ravens agreed to terms on a two-year deal with C/G Casey Rabach. ... Immediately after the horn sounded to end Tuesday's three-hour practice session, two ice-cream trucks drove onto the field, playing music to announce their arrival. The players were treated to free treats courtesy of owner Steve Bisciotti, who came up with the idea.

Tagged: Ravens, Cardinals, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Anquan Boldin, Joe Flacco, Ed Dickson, Torrey Smith

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