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When in doubt, rely on Boldin

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When in doubt, rely on Boldin

When taking a look at the stat sheet, Anquan Boldin doesn't exactly jump out.

He had five catches for 57 yards to lead the a less-than-spectacular Ravens offense in Sunday's 25-15 win at the Cleveland Browns, but what might go overlooked are his contributions off the ball.

Rookie Bernard Pierce got his first TD as a pro, running from 12 yards out to put the Ravens up 14-0 to end the first quarter.

It was Boldin's block on Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown that sealed the edge and allowed Pierce to turn up field.

"He doesn't have a receiver's mentality," Ravens receiver Torrey Smith said. "It's fun watching him play and his aggressive nature, and you kind of feed off of him."

Then there's what Boldin did on the ball.

When the Ravens needed a play to come back from a 15-14 deficit in the fourth quarter -- after going two-plus quarters without a first down -- it was Boldin who hauled in a 21-yard catch to get the Ravens to their own 40.

All of a sudden, the efficient machine that started the game re-appeared.

“When you’re struggling like we were, you always need a play to get going, and that was the play,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It got us the first down and got us going.

"There are a lot of turning points in a season and that was definitely a turning point. There will be a lot more turning points before it’s all over, but that was a big play."

The Ravens were able to go back to Ray Rice who was limited after getting 58 rushing yards in the first quarter. He had three rushes for 22 yards on that drive after Boldin's catch knocked Cleveland off balance.

Quarterback Joe Flacco would hit Smith for a 19-yard touchdown with less than five minutes left in the game that proved to be the game-winner. 

With a new empahsis on speed and the ability to stretch the field because of Smith and Jacoby Jones, and the emergence of tight end Dennis Pitta until recently, Boldin still is Baltimore's most reliable weapon.

He hasn't scored a touchdown since the opener, but Boldin leads the team in catches (36) and yards (510).

"He's the definition of a football player. I love playing with him," Smith said of the 10th-year player. "He's physical. He's a great route runner. He can catch. He's still a dominant player."

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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