Any rap on Redman? Not lack of preparation

First-year starter at QB tunes out distractions

Pro Football

September 08, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Although Chris Redman has calls into Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks, the voice most frequently in the Ravens quarterback's ear this week has been Eminem.

Heading into his first NFL start, Redman has calmed his nerves by not missing a beat with his routine. After the team's morning walkthrough each day, Redman puts his favorite rap artist in his Discman and runs laps around the practice fields for about a half hour.

That daily escape allows him to get into the right frame of mind.

"Right now, I'm thinking that it's not the first start, it's not the first game," said Redman, the fourth different season-opening quarterback in Brian Billick's four-year tenure with the Ravens. "It's what do I have to do to win? I'm just focused on beating this defense. I don't care about anything else. It's just moving the ball and getting the ball in the end zone."

Going into a season with a first-year starting quarterback should be equally as nerve-racking for Billick.

In 10 years of coaching in the NFL, he has always had a veteran quarterback starting the first game. The last time he encountered such a situation was as an assistant at Stanford in the early '90s, when Steve Stenstrom entered the season with no career starts and directed the Cardinal to an 8-4 season.

So, what's the biggest fear for Billick going with the most inexperienced quarterback of his NFL career?

"Frankly, it's the things going on around him," Billick said. "Chris is going to be fine. I have a lot of faith in that. It's the things going on around him that betray him and put us in a panic mode."

When Redman is not trying to get away, he is trying to get advice. He expects to talk with former teammates Dilfer and Banks before today's game, and director of player development Earnest Byner is hoping to get Redman in touch with former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar.

But Redman's biggest vote of confidence came from team leader Ray Lewis.

"Chris Redman is going to play a smart football game," Lewis said. "That's what Trent Dilfer did. You don't have to win a game, just play a smart one. I think our quarterbacks truly understand that."

Many league observers have drawn comparisons between Redman and Dilfer, the Ravens' Super Bowl quarterback who now plays for the Seattle Seahawks. Like Dilfer, Redman is a natural leader who is expected to win games with his sound decision-making rather than his average arm.

"I thought Trent played very smart," Redman said. "I think that's a key for us winning. Obviously, we have a premier back in the league [in Jamal Lewis] so I'm going to have him take the offense over. When it's my turn to make plays, I want to be able to do that."

It's a strange game for Redman to make his first NFL start. His counterpart is Panthers quarterback Rodney Peete, who broke into the league in 1989 when Redman was still in middle school.

For Redman, his focus is on the Ravens' game plan and the biggest opportunity of his young career.

"This is a chance to prove to these guys that I am capable of playing in the NFL," Redman said. "And that I'm capable of being a starter in this league."

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