With the playoffs looming just weeks away, the Ravens were dealt a blow today with the news that top wide receiver Anquan Boldin will need surgery to repair a slight tear in his meniscus.
Head coach John Harbaugh made the announcement after practice today, saying Boldin will miss around two weeks as a result of the procedure. The surgery will be performed this afternoon by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.
"It flapped up on him, I think it was Tuesday night after the walkthrough," Harbaugh said. "He's going to have to get it repaired. It's a two-week thing. He's seeing Dr. Andrews this afternoon. It's two weeks and he'll be back for the playoffs, whatever round we happen to play in."
This suddenly makes the Ravens' quest for a top-two seed and a first-round bye all the more important. The Ravens would love that extra week off for Boldin to get a chance to recover from the surgery.
Boldin is leading the Ravens in receiving yards this season, making 57 catches for 887 yards and three touchdowns.
Known as an incredibly tough player, Saturday's game against the Browns will mark Boldin's first game missed since November of 2009.
With Boldin out, the Ravens will lean heavily on rookie Torrey Smith and eight-year veteran Lee Evans, who has worked his way back from an ankle injury which kept him out for much of the first half of the season.
Smith has made 43 grabs for 770 yards and seven touchdowns, while Evans has just four catches for 74 yards.
"It's an opportunity," Evans said. "Whatever's called on me to do, I'll be ready to do. I've been working to get back to this point, and I'm getting an opportunity. It's what it is, and I'm looking forward to it.
"I think we have talent all across the board. This is an opportunity for a lot of guys to step up and make some plays. That's what it's going to take, it's not just at the receiver position, but all across the offense. People will get more opportunities, so I'm looking forward to seeing everybody play."
The Ravens will miss Boldin's production as a receiver and a run blocker, but Smith says they'll also miss what he brings from a leadership standpoint.
"It's a big loss for us," Smith said. "Anquan's our leader. We're definitely going to miss him out there on the field as a player. But for us, we've got to step up. It's too important for us to play well right now (and) not have any letdowns. The whole team is depending on us to play well and we've got to go out there and do it.
"We'll be fine. It's the NFL. It's the next man up. We're going to miss 'Q' more than anybody, especially me. That's the guy who I look up to the most on the field."
Harbaugh also confirmed today that newly signed kicker Shayne Graham will get the call on Saturday, with the injured Billy Cundiff getting the week off.
"We anticipate Shayne being the kicker this week," Harbaugh said. "Billy's dealing with his calf and Shayne's been practicing. Even if Billy was ready to go - and I still think he's nursing that thing back and he's not 100 percent - Shayne got the week of practice in so we'll go with Shayne.