Questioning The Enemy: Cardinals Have Respect For Anquan Boldin

Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt and receiver Larry Fitzgerald answer the tough questions.

Posted by Billy Jones on Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at 10:54 am | Categories: Billy Jones, Questioning The Enemy

In seven seasons with the Cardinals, Anquan Boldin helped the team to a Super Bowl berth and two division crowns.

Sunday, Arizona will face their former teammate – this time as a Raven.

From 2004-09, Boldin was one the NFL’s most productive receivers and left a mark on Arizona’s record books, placing in the top five of all of the Cardinals’ major receiving categories.

Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald spoke with the Baltimore media on Wednesday about Boldin and the impact he has on a defense.

Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt

On what receiver Anquan Boldin meant to the Cardinals and how he’s playing this season: “He was a great football player for us. He did a lot for us on the field and off the field. He was a big part of the reason we had success here. It looks like he’s still doing those things on the football field – making plays. If you throw the ball near him, he’s going to catch it. He’s a tough, physical guy. I have a great deal of respect for Anquan and his career in this league.”

On if defenses have shifted their coverages to receiver Larry Fitzgerald since Boldin’s departure: “I’ve noticed that defenses have done that, and I’m sure that has little bit of something to do with Anquan and the threat that he was. But, I guess that’s normal strategy in the NFL.”

On the addition of tight end Todd Heap to the team: “He’s done a good job for us, not only from a blocking standpoint, but his ability to get open and make some plays. He made some plays earlier in the season for us that were some big plays and has increased our production at the tight end spot. That’s something that we haven’t had consistency out of. I’ve played against Todd a number of years when I was in Pittsburgh, and he always seemed to play good against us. So, I’ve seen him make a lot of big plays in other games. I’m just glad to have a guy like that on our football team. Anytime you get a guy that you can work to get the ball to, whether it’s in the red zone or certain situations… He’s a guy who’s got a great feel and good hands. He brings a great perspective to our team from a guy who’s had success in this league.”

On how playing the Steelers last week helps prepare Arizona for the Ravens’ defense: “I think they’re both good defenses. They are different in what they do. Baltimore is certainly… Even though they have some similarities in the things they do, they do so much more with different looks. [They are] physical guys. There’s a reason they have been a very good defense for a long time. I think it helped us from the standpoint of having to prepare for a very good defense. But as far as being able to say, ‘Well, this is what you faced,’ I think they’re a little bit different. The one thing that’s certainly in common with both of them is that they have good players, and they are very physical.”

On the theory that West Coast teams don’t play well on the East Coast: “It’s hard, there’s no question. There’s no question that it’s hard to come from the West Coast and play a 1 o’clock game on the East Coast from the standpoint of what it does to your body. Some of that is also playing good football teams. It’s tough in the NFL to win on the road no matter who you’re playing against. But when you’re going against a very good football team, it always makes it [tougher]. Baltimore is a tough place to play. We’re certainly aware of that. We’ve been there… Most of us remember when we went in there in ’07 and what that atmosphere was like. We know that it’s a tough challenge, but that is the NFL, and it’s not easy to win on the road, and you’ve got to try to trust your preparation and what you do to get ready for it. We’ve got to have some guys make plays for us early.”

Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald

On what it’s been like not having receiver Anquan Boldin with him in Arizona: “Football aside, I just miss him as a friend – seeing him every day, seeing A.J. [Anquan, Jr.], seeing his family, just talks we had every day. More so besides the football, I miss him just as a friend. But he is the ultimate competitor. I never played with a guy that played with as much passion and enthusiasm as he does on a day-to-day [basis]. [He's] just a fearless competitor, and it was great having him for seven years.”

On what it will be like to be on opposite sides of the field with Boldin: “Well, every time I’ve watched him, I was pulling for him. [I] want to see him do well. Last week, I was happy seeing him get in the end zone, making that push to try to get that win last week, so I was pulling for him. But this week – we’ve dropped five in a row – we need to get this thing in gear. So, I’d be lying to you if I told you I wanted to see him win this week.”

On how much pressure Boldin alleviated when he was in Arizona: “‘Q’ [Boldin] alleviated a lot of pressure off of everybody. I think the thing that we did was we complemented each other. The things that he did well, I didn’t do well, and the things that I did well, he didn’t have to do. I think we really complemented each other well. When we are on the same side of the field, we presented defenses with a lot of different challenges. It gave defenses more to have to think about, more to prepare for. It was a lot of fun playing with him. We pushed each other every day at practice, and we both wanted to see each other excel. The friendship carried onto the football field.”

On playing against Ravens safety Ed Reed: “They have three sure Hall of Famers on the team right now. If Haloti [Ngata] keeps playing the way he is playing, he is going to be in there, too. Then you have Jarret [Johnson] – they have so many talented players on that defense. They present so many challenges and mismatches. When you have your opportunities, you have to be able to capitalize on them. Every man is going to accept the challenge. If you have to block Haloti by yourself, ‘T-Sizzle’ [Terrell Suggs] by yourself, block Jarret by yourself, you just are going to have to man up and get it done. It’s going to be matchups of guys that are going to win throughout the game because they are good, but we have to win the majority of them. That’s what it’s all about – matchups and winning them.”

On how surprised he is that the Cardinals are 1-5: “I think we all share the same disappointment that we are sitting in the position that we are in. We have 10 games left on the season – we have a lot of football left and a lot of time to be able to gel and come together. We have a lot of guys in this locker room that are fighting. In practice, we are fighting for our jobs out here. Guys understand, this is the NFL – it’s not for long. We know we have to get this thing turned around ASAP – that’s our mindset.”

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