Redman says he welcomes QB challenge

Entering 4th year, Raven unfazed by competition with 1st-round pick Boller

`I think I'm in a great situation'

He reports no back pain after offseason surgery

April 29, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

With his baseball cap turned backward, Ravens quarterback Chris Redman confidently dropped back and zipped a pass without flinching.

During what should have been another routine throwing session yesterday, Redman showed no signs of pain in his back and, more notably, no effects from the increased pressure on his shoulders.

Talking for the first time since the Ravens drafted a potential franchise quarterback in Kyle Boller on Saturday, Redman said he is fully recovered from offseason back surgery and is ready to battle the first-round draft pick for his starting job.

"Competing is part of the NFL," Redman said. "If you can't do that, you shouldn't be playing. The only thing I can control is what I do out there on the field. If I go out there and do my job well, I think it's a different story. I'm going to go out there and bust my butt to play the best that I can. My major focus right now is getting ready for [the season opener in] Pittsburgh and going into this thing as a leader."

Redman is expected to enter training camp as the starter, but Ravens coach Brian Billick said he has not ruled out Boller starting this season. Once thought to be the franchise's quarterback of the future, Redman has remained the consummate team player and expressed no bitterness about limited chances to solidify himself as the team's quarterback of the present.

A third-round pick three years ago, he was the No. 3 quarterback in 2000 and 2001. When Elvis Grbac was released after refusing to take a pay cut last season, Redman got his first crack at being a starter and went 3-3 before a herniated disc sidelined him for the rest of the year.

Now, as an unrestricted free agent after this season, the 25-year-old quarterback understands that this year should define his career with the Ravens.

"The timing couldn't be any better for me," Redman said. "I really think I'm in a great situation. I feel really confident about getting the chance to show people what I can do. Hopefully, everything will work out."

The Ravens made certain there were no mixed signals with Redman. When he entered the team's Owings Mills complex yesterday, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh spoke to him about the addition of Boller.

"I told him that I look at it as a positive thing," Cavanaugh said. "I said, `I'm not going to lie to you and say we weren't ecstatic about drafting Kyle. We were because we need another guy. It really shouldn't change your thought process at all. You're going to come in as a starter and you're going to have a lot of competition now. It's your job to perform well enough that we keep him on the bench.' "

Though Redman has more experience, Boller will have the edge in financial commitment. The rookie out of California probably will sign a four- or five-year contract with a substantial signing bonus, which likely means the Ravens cannot afford to sit him on the bench beyond this season.

Still, Redman doesn't rule out the chance of remaining in the Ravens' future plans.

"If I go out there and do what I'm capable of doing, I would love to be here for a long time," Redman said. "I'm going to do everything on my part to hopefully make sure that happens."

Despite the potential for a heated competition, Redman is willing to tutor Boller. An understudy for years, Redman is the veteran member of the quarterbacking corps for the first time and is open to passing on knowledge gained from Grbac, Trent Dilfer and Randall Cunningham.

"I'm going to try to take a little bit from each guy that taught me and try to help him out," Redman said. "I understand what he's going through."

Before engaging in a quarterback battle, Redman has to pass some hurdles of his own. On May 9, he is scheduled to participate in his first minicamp since having back surgery three months ago.

To gear up for the full-team workout, he has thrown every day for the past month - not counting a short break in between to get married.

Cavanaugh said the biggest difference since the surgery has been a better flow in Redman's delivery. He looks stronger, moves better and has gotten rid of the tightness in the waist, hips and back from last season.

"I haven't felt this good since early in college," Redman said. "I'm very excited about getting out there in a couple of weeks and showing everybody that I'm ready for everything."

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