Redman up to task, QB says

Ravens' new No. 1 `can compete at this level'

March 03, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Chris Redman, the only Ravens quarterback of the present, will carry some advice from a Baltimore quarterback of the past when he tries to win a starting job this summer.

"I'm definitely confident in my abilities," Redman said yesterday. "I think I can compete at this level. But I'm not going to give any predictions. That's not my style. Talk is cheap. I learned that from a guy who wore No. 19 for a long time."

Those words came from Colts Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, who has avidly watched Redman follow in his footsteps.

Redman set nearly all the passing records at the University of Louisville, the same school that produced Unitas nearly five decades ago. He also won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award as the nation's top senior quarterback in 2000.

Now, with Elvis Grbac being cut Friday, Redman will be given the chance to quarterback Baltimore's NFL team just like Unitas.

The Ravens are banking that Redman, the No. 3 quarterback the past two years, can assume the starting role. In case the 24-year-old quarterback struggles, the team probably will sign a low-priced veteran such as Randall Cunningham in June as insurance.

Redman, though, says he will have to earn the promotion.

"They're not going to hand the job over to me," he said. "I have faced challenges before and this is another challenge. I know I'm going to face competition."

The Ravens have patiently groomed Redman since drafting him in the third round in 2000. He has attempted only three passes in two seasons and didn't take a snap last season.

Redman quietly observed behind Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Grbac and Cunningham.

"It was an ideal situation," Redman said. "My competitive juices still wanted me to play, but I learned so much. I had the chance to be around so many different guys, personalities and leaders. I took a little something from every one."

Redman heard about Grbac's release while golfing Friday. A friend phoned him when he heard the news on television, and Redman had mixed emotions.

Although Grbac's departure left the job open for him, Redman also had become friends with Grbac. Considered a loner by most of his teammates, Grbac went hunting with Redman a day after the Ravens lost in the playoffs at Pittsburgh.

"Of course I hate to see Elvis go," Redman said. "He was such a good guy and he helped me out a lot. But that's part of the game and it's an opportunity for me. He was a great guy. Anyone who talked to him one-on-one knows he is a class individual."

But the loss of Grbac is now Redman's gain.

Known for a strong and accurate arm, Redman has to adjust to the speed of the game.

Last year in the preseason, Redman struggled at times with focus, looking at too many places when he dropped back to pass. Still, he finished the preseason with impressive numbers, completing 69.8 percent of his passes (30 of 43) for 282 yards. He threw two touchdowns and was intercepted three times.

"The only thing I know is to work hard. I intend to watch a lot of film and talk to a lot of coaches," Redman said. "They say the mentality should be the same whether you're competing to be the backup or the starter. Then reality hits you. If I didn't give it all I had, I would be cheating myself and my teammates."

NOTE: Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sam Adams isn't angry about the Ravens terminating his contract Thursday but said it was "unlikely" he would return to the team. "I took less money to get them a ring and two Pro Bowl years," he said. "They didn't return the favor."

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