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Larry Fitzgerald out, Anquan Boldin missed

8/18/2010

Depth at receiver is a problem for the Arizona Cardinals.

Imagine that. The team that fielded three 1,000-yard wideouts two seasons ago suddenly might have a roster spot for a rookie free agent at the position (Stephen Williams). Onrea Jones, a veteran of six NFL teams since 2007, might be needed for more than depth.

These could be short-term troubles for Arizona given that Larry Fitzgerald's sprained MCL should be healed in time for the regular season. The team still has Steve Breaston, whose speed sets him apart among Arizona wideouts. But with Anquan Boldin playing for Baltimore, the Cardinals lack the front-line receiver depth they once enjoyed. And they're feeling it now.

"Breaston stretches the field a little more, but the physical presence that Anquan has in the run game and also run-after-catch, he was the ultimate receiver -- what every team looks for in a receiver," San Francisco 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer said. "Him going to Baltimore is the perfect fit for that team and that conference."

The Cardinals have strong leaders, putting them in better position to part with Boldin.

"I really believe that from the time that [Boldin] was there, you have seen the transformation of their team from the old Arizona Cardinals to the Arizona Cardinals that you see now," Spencer said. "He embodied that mentality and I think he pushed the guys to achieve more, to want more. No doubt in anyone’s mind, he was a vocal person on that team and pretty much the heart and soul of that team. Everyone on that team really looked to him and respected him. With him gone, you lose a great player. It’s up to those other guys that play behind him to fill those shoes, which are big shoes to fill."