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Former Raven Anquan Boldin retires from football to focus more on humanitarian work

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Former Raven Anquan Boldin retires from football to focus more on humanitarian work

ORCHARD PARK, New York -- Receiver Anquan Boldin is abruptly giving up on football to pursue his humanitarian and charitable work just under two weeks after signing with the Buffalo Bills.

Boldin released a statement on Sunday night shortly after informing the Bills of his decision.

"Football has afforded me a platform throughout my career to have a greater impact on my humanitarian work," Boldin. "At this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority. My life's purpose is bigger than football."

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He added that football brings together people of different races and religions to strive toward one shared goal, and how important it is to not let your fellow man down.

Boldin, the NFL's 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, oversees the south Florida-based Q81 Foundation, which offers educational support for under-privileged children.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said the team respects Boldin's decision to retire.

"We appreciate the time he gave us over the past two weeks," Beane said. "He is one of the best receivers to play this game and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward."

Boldin's decision came as a complete surprise, especially after he talked about building on his legacy entering his 15th season and being open to serving as a mentor for Buffalo's young group of receivers. Though he was non-committal about his future beyond this year, Boldin was intent on playing this season upon signing a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.75 million on Aug. 7.

"At this point in your career, you can't get too far ahead of yourself, so I just take it a year at a time," he had said. "Once I'm committed, I'm all in."

The Bills, however, aren't the same team he joined. Only four days after Boldin signed, Buffalo traded its top receiving threat in Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines as part of two blockbuster deals on Aug. 11. In a separate trade, the Bills acquired receiver Jordan Matthews from Philadelphia for starting cornerback Ronald Darby.

The Bills also acquired second- and third-round draft picks in an indication the team is more intent on building through next year's draft.

Though surprised by the moves, Boldin insisted at the time that Watkins' presence had little to do with him signing with Buffalo.

"For me, I would've loved to have played alongside of Sammy, but that wasn't the reason I signed here," Boldin had signed. "The reason I signed here is the guys who are still here. I believe in coach Sean (McDermott) and what he's doing and the direction this organization is heading in."

McDermott is a first-time coach who spent the past six seasons as the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator. He was hired in January to replace Rex Ryan, who was fired in the final week of last season.

Boldin ranks in the top four among active receivers with 1,076 catches, 13,779 yards receiving and 82 touchdowns receiving.

He appeared in just one preseason game for Buffalo, and finished with one catch for 5 yards in a 20-16 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Boldin spent last season with Detroit, where he had 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games. The former Florida State star spent his first seven NFL seasons with Arizona, then played three years with Baltimore and three with San Francisco. He helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in February 2013.

The Bills are in a sudden state of disarray at the receiver position three weeks before the season opens, and in the midst of a 17-year playoff drought -- the longest active streak in North America's four professional sports.

Boldin was supposed to fill a top-three spot alongside Matthews and rookie second-round draft pick Zay Jones.

Matthews, however, is listed as week to week after chipping a bone in his sternum during his first practice after being traded. He began light workouts on Sunday, and is on track to be ready for the season opener against the New York Jets.

Free-agent addition Rod Streater's status is more uncertain after hurting his left toe against Philadelphia. McDermott said the medical staff is still evaluating Streater's injury and wouldn't rule out the possibility of surgery.

That leaves Andre Holmes and Philly Brown now competing for an increased role in an offense headed by quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

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Baltimore Ravens 2018 Training Camp preview

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Baltimore Ravens 2018 Training Camp preview

The Ravens’ 2018 season is one of the most anticipated seasons in the last decade. 

From the coaching staff to the quarterback, the future of the franchise will be determined over 16 weeks. The work, however, beings now. 

The Ravens’ first training camp practice kicks off Thursday and there is a lot to keep a close eye on. Let's take a look at the many talking points of the 2018 preseason.

The Great Quarterback Debate:

Unless you’ve been in hiding since the NFL Draft, you know what all the hoopla is about. Joe Flacco remains the Ravens’ starter, but the competition at QB1 just got a little more interesting. The addition of Lamar Jackson has hopefully ignited a fire under Flacco and Jackson will get a year to learn under the 11-year veteran. If the season starts to go south early on, Jackson could come in as their starter and begin his role as the team’s next franchise quarterback. 

A lot could happen at the quarterback position over the next year, but one thing that is certain is all eyes will be on Lamar Jackson when he hits the field at training camp. You can't deny your intrigue. The Heisman winner had success both in the air and on the ground over his three years at Louisville, racking up record-breaking numbers. How the Ravens utilize Jackson will be interesting. Coach Harbaugh has already stated he will be active on game days and that they're experimenting with having Jackson and Flacco on the field at the same time. 

Oh, and then there's Robert Griffin III. We think you might know who he is.

The Ravens signed him to a one-year deal back at the beginning of April, but now with the addition of Lamar Jackson, another big training camp question arises. Do the Ravens keep a third QB on their active roster or do they send him on his way? RGIII has mentioned he's looking forward to mentoring the fellow Heisman Trophy winner in his first year in the league, but how much of that he'll get to do remains unseen.

A New Core Of Offensive Weapons: 

Flacco's declining numbers cannot be placed entirely on his shoulders. His options at wide receiver and tight end have been limited, but Ozzie Newsome – in his last year as general manager – made sure that would no longer be an issue.

Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John 'Smokey' Brown became Ravens in free agency and Breshad Perriman will fight for his final chance with the team after they declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. There is also 2018 draft picks Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley and undrafted free agents Jaelon Acklin and Andrew Levrone. Veteran Chris Moore and Quincy Adeboyejo will also be competing. Flacco mentioned during OTAs that he would be rounding up his receivers outside of practice to build chemistry. Come Thursday, we will see if the sparks have begun to fly.

The tight end depth chart will be looking very different for the Ravens as well this season. There was, of course, the additions of Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews – a pair of Top 100 picks – in the draft and undrafted free agent Nick Keizer. Veterans Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams are returning, but who will be their starter Week 1 will be interesting to watch. Boyle was on the field for 66 percent of the Ravens' offensive snaps in 2017, but injuries have hindered both Boyle and Williams. Williams missed 12 games in 2016 with a knee tear and five games in 2017 with an ankle sprain. Where he sits on the depth chart will rely heavily on how healthy he remains during an extended training camp. 

Critical Year for the Coaching Staff:

The 2018 season is the most critical one of John Harbaugh's 10-year tenure. As you've read many times this offseason, the Ravens haven't seen the postseason since 2015. And if that trend continues into the 2018 season, big changes to the offensive playcallers should be imminent. 

At his annual State of the Ravens press conference in February, owner Steve Bisciotti was questioned as to why no coaching changes – from head coach to offensive coordinator – were made after the Ravens' offense clearly had trouble getting things going all season long.

"I’m not going to give a ‘playoff or bust’ edict to you all, or to my coach," Bisciotti said.

"He’s under as much pressure, probably, than he’s ever been in his life, and I expect him to keep his chin up and take his positivity and his talents and make the most of this season. I may as well replace him now if I’m going to tell him, ‘Make the playoffs or you’re out of town next year.’ That’s just not the way to run a business.”

That mindset is understandable. Bisciotti noted Flacco has been through four offensive coordinators in five years and was comfortable with OC Marty Mornhinweg. Harbaugh's contract was extended through 2019, but if the season doesn't pan out as expected, the offensive could have a very different look in 2019. 

A Fast and Furious Defense:

Linebackers coach, Don 'Wink' Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator after Dean Pees' departure. Harbaugh hired within the organization to keep the defensive vision cohesive, but Martindale is bringing something different to the table. 

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," safety Eric Weddle said in a recent interview. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

It appears this year's defense will rely heavily on the instincts of its star players like Pro Bowlers Weddle, Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley. The defense has never had an issue being dominate, but you may be seeing a more creative defense come game days with players given the freedom to make decisions in real time. How well it works will be exciting to see. 

Other Notes: 

The Ravens placed six players, G Marshal Yanda, TE Vince Mayle, DE Brent Urban, CB Jaylen Hill, LB Bam Bradley and WR Quincy Adeboyejo on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to begin training camp. Yanda missed 14 games last season after suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Placing him on the PUP list to begin training camp is most likely out of precaution. He did not participate in any offseason workouts. 

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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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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