Jim Caldwell, Lions react to retirement of Anquan Boldin

‘When you imagine what a pro looks like you see Anquan’

ALLEN PARK >> Interestingly enough, Anquan Boldin caught his first and last career touchdown passes at Ford Field.

The veteran wide receiver, who played for the Lions in 2016, announced his retirement after 14 seasons in the NFL on Sunday.

In Boldin’s retirement announcement he made it clear he will be working on humanitarian efforts — a continuation of what he did in the NFL. He was the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2015.

Typically when Lions coach Jim Caldwell goes to the podium for his daily press conference, he does not make an announcement unless big news is breaking.

But on Monday, he had a few words prepared about Boldin who is 36.

Reaction from the Lions on Boldin’s retirement:

— “He’s not necessarily a guy that’s in front of the media often, but one of the true great gentleman and outstanding performers in our league. Just a quality, quality guy. I find it interesting … about him saying that his desire to help people (was more important than) his desire to continue to play at this stage,’’ Caldwell said. “And he’s one of those guys, you talk about guys that take action and make a difference in your community, who doesn’t just showboat, but he is focused in on trying to find ways to make a positive change. He went to Washington, D.C., last year (with Glover Quin) and he’s had a group that he’s taken young children over to Africa teaching educational lessons along the way through his foundation. So, I know he’s on the road to do some great things and (he’s a) real gentleman. One of the best in the business. … He’s been at it a long time. He’s one of those guys that’s got a great competitive spirit. So, he felt that he had had enough. He’s had a great career though. … Quite a family man and great player as well.”

— Golden Tate shared a few memories including a tale about a blood-dripping glove. “I think Anquan is still playing at a very, very high level. I think he could play as long as he wanted to. Just speaking on his career, I remember being in college watching him and modeling my game after him. I love how strong his hands are. That moment to make a play — he’s going to be the guy who makes the play and (I) had the pleasure of playing with him for a year. When you imagine what a pro looks like you see Anquan. A long career, wasn’t hurt very often through his career .

“He was a guy who showed up early and left late. I’d walk in and he’d be getting out of the hot box, going to the cold tub, getting to the hot tub, always stretching. He took advantage of it. His mindset coming in every day was unique. Every day he was consistent in his work ethic. You never had to worry about if he was going to not make a play or miss an assignment. He was always on point.

“One of the best stories I have, it might have been against Dallas, I think he broke his finger or something. As a receiver breaking your finger it’s kind of a big deal. He went into the locker room for two or three series and came back out and continued to play and he had some key catches in that game for us. I remember seeing his glove drip of blood. He went in, found a way and came back out and helped us. That’s just speaks of who he is.

“You have to admire that he’s transitioning from something he loves and the passion he has for football to something that’s even a bigger cause. That speaks on the kind of man he is. He’s a high character guy who uses the platform he has now to help others and help our future,’’ Tate added.

— Safety Glover Quin also admired Boldin. “Congrats to him, anytime you can play in this league for that many years and be that productive for so many years and to be able to look in the mirror and look in a situation and say, ‘You know what? I feel like my playing days are over. I can have a bigger impact doing something else.’ To have the freedom to walk away is huge. I tip my hat to him,’’ Quin said.

Five things to know about growth of Lions QB Matthew Stafford

Jim Caldwell, Golden Tate see a difference

ALLEN PARK >> Entering his ninth season, Matthew Stafford’s game is still growing.

It’s been evident in training camp and in his limited snaps into the first two preseason games (both wins) that the Lions quarterback has added to his repertoire.

“He’s really been dropping some passes in the bucket, some that either we catch or no one catches. When you can be a quarterback and make those type of plays that’s special. Every day, every year Matt’s getting better and always will,’’ wide receiver Golden Tate said.

Stafford will likely play about a half in the third preseason game where the Lions will face the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at 7 p.m. on Friday at Ford Field.

Here are five new things to know about Stafford:

1. In Saturday’s game he found TJ Jones over the middle for a nice touch pass. It’s not a throw that’s been in Stafford’s regular rotation.  “I’m uncovering every stone I can to try and find a way to be better. And I think I got the fast balls down. Pretty good at those. Made a living doing those for a long time,’’ Stafford said. Any doubt, ask his receivers. “But at the same time, I felt like maybe when I looked at some tape last year, there were some plays out there that maybe I wasn’t trying to make that throw when I felt maybe, when you look at the tape, hey there’s a big play to be had there if you could just throw it over this guy and throw it around this guys, whatever it is. And so, I just studied all that kind of stuff in a while of how can I generalize this and work on something to get better. And that’s kind of some of the stuff that I’m working on.”

2. Coach Jim Caldwell has been a Stafford fan since Day One but he sees a difference too. “Yeah, I’ve always known him to be able to make every single throw that there is. I mean from the first day that I laid eyes on him watching him work. He’s not had any problems throwing screens. He’s not had any problems dropping the ball into open areas or anything of that nature,’’ Caldwell said on Monday. “But he’s trying to refine his game more so than anything else. But I’ve never seen any deficiency in any of those areas to be honest with you through the years or since we’ve been here. But like I said, he’s trying to get better and that’s the mark of a true champion, just in terms of how he goes about working, how he tries to improve upon every little detail, and he’s performing well right now.”

3. The quarterback, entering his ninth season, said the team will change a lot between now and Week 1 of the regular season. It’s like that every year. Who all is going to be on the team, who’s going to be doing what job for you. At the moment, everybody’s learning everything, trying to fill in holes where we can,’’ Stafford said on Monday. “You go into Week 1, you’re going to have a very specific game plan on how you want to attack teams and this guy’s going to be this kind of player for us, so it’s a little bit difficult to make an assessment of where our team is at the moment. Obviously, there’s things generally that we can do better. We can have less penalties, have less turnovers, those kind of things are a general rule thing, but as far as where we are offensively or defensively, it’s kind of tough to say.”

4. Golden Tate said one reason Stafford has improved is his comfort level with the offense. “One, his knowledge of this offense is higher, two and a half years we’ve been in this offense with Jim Bob (Cooter). He just gets better. … He hits the open guy, a lot of passes you don’t even have to break stride which is important and nice and that’s how you run after the catch,’’ Tate said. “It seems like guys are catching the balls a lot better so I don’t know if our grips are getting stronger, or we’re getting better at catching or if he’s getting us better balls. I’d say it’s a combination of both.’’

5. The Lions defense has been flying around (in a good way) in the first two games. Stafford goes against them every day in practice and has noticed a difference from last year. “I think they’re moving around faster, a talented defense. Some coverage specific stuff a little bit different too than what I had seen in the past just through training camp,’’ Stafford said. “Some of the same, some different, it’s tough, but there are a lot of young guys that are out there playing and doing a nice job.”

BONUS: For the first time since he came to Detroit, Stafford worked with a quarterback guru in the summer. He said we wouldn’t notice the difference, but he would both on and off the field. “Yeah I’m trying. Trying to implement some of that stuff. Sometimes it’s better than others, but yeah I feel comfortable with most of the stuff that we’re doing,’’ Stafford said.

 

Former Lions WR Anquan Boldin leaves Bills, retires from NFL

Lions have plenty of depth at wide receiver

Anquan Boldin had such a huge impact on the Lions last season, many thought the veteran wide receiver might be inclined to return to Detroit.

It didn’t happen.

Maybe Lions GM Bob Quinn knew something. Perhaps he didn’t think he could count on Boldin to stay with the team.

Boldin signed with the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 7. On Sunday (Aug. 20) he informed the Bills that he would retire after 14 NFL seasons, according to an ESPN report. In-between those dates the Bills traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams.

Oops.

Boldin had been lining up in the slot with the first team in the 13 days that he was with the Bills.

Boldin issued a statement on Sunday that read: “Football in its purest form is what we all strive for as a nation. People from all different races, religions and backgrounds working together for one shared goal. The core values taught in football are some of the most important you can learn in life. To always be there for the guy next to you and not let your fellow man down. You do whatever it takes to make sure your brother is OK.

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

Boldin caught 67 passes for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016, his only year with the Lions. He was signed a day before 2016 training camp, stepped in and was almost immediately up to speed on the offense. He and Matthew Stafford were on the same wave-length from the get-go.

He ranks ninth in the NFL in all-time career receptions with 1,076.

The 36-year-old’s training regimen set a good example for the wide receivers and every player in the locker room.

The Lions don’t seem to be hurting for depth at wide receiver which could be a reason they did not bring back Boldin.

Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and rookie Kenny Golladay are locks for the 53-man roster, then look for a battle between TJ Jones, Jace Billingsley, Jared Abbrederis and Keshawn Martin for the remaining four or five spots.

The Lions are 2-0 in the preseason after a 16-6 win over the N.Y. Jets on Saturday night. Next up they’ll face the New England Patriots at 7 p.m. on Friday at Ford Field.