The injuries pile up and everything comes crumbling down.
Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin has been bothered by a hamstring injury for most of the preseason. With the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers Sept. 13 at University of Phoenix just three days away, his status is in question. The same could be said of his future in Arizona. Boldin did not practice Wednesday, but Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he believes Boldin will be ready for the opener.
Let's hope. This is a big season for Boldin. With his contract expiring at the end of the 2010 season, he is looking for an extension. He'll have to convince the Cardinals that investing a large sum of money into a receiver nearing his thirties will be the right move. Doing this from the sideline will instead convince the Cardinals that parting ways with him is the right thing to do.
Several NFL teams had no problem doing so with aging players that were believed to be no longer part of the franchise's future. The Kansas City Chiefs traded Tony Gonzalez to the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots just traded defensive tackle Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders this week for a first-round draft choice.
Boldin has missed 16 games over his seven-year career to injury. He missed five games last season due to a hamstring injury. Durability will be an issue for the entire season. The questions will hover over his head like a deep pass from the opposite end zone. Due to his physical style of play, can his body hold up? Will his skills soon erode? Does his production warrant such a salary?
Those questions will be answered this season. A decision must be made this year, possibly this spring before the draft. If Boldin can play a full season, or close to it, while posting similar or better numbers to his 89 catches, 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns, the Cardinals could be willing to make him a happy man. The Cardinals' success depends on Boldin's health. There's a lot riding on that hamstring of his. With Boldin in the lineup, the Cardinals are one of the best offenses in football. His ability to make tough catches across the middle takes pressure off Larry Fitzgerald on the other side. Double-teams are something defensive coordinators would have to think twice about. Without Boldin in the lineup, the Cardinals are much easier to defend. For example, take a look at this preseason's offensive showing where the Cardinals' first-team offense struggled to move the ball and put points on the board.
This is an imporant moment for Boldin. It is an important time for the Cardinals, too. If Boldin can stay healthy and productive, the pieces will naturally fall into place and making a decision becomes much easier. It also leaves little to suspense. In a league full of uncertainty, a sure thing or an obvious decision is as welcome as the sunrise.