Wright appears Ravens' No. 1

Newcomer Lucas slips, says 3rd-stringer will start over Redman vs. Miami

QB Boller due back in 4-6 weeks

Billick praises Wright, but delays naming starter

November 12, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Newly signed Ravens quarterback Ray Lucas gave his former team an early scouting report yesterday.

Just moments after signing a one-year contract at the Ravens' practice complex, the former Dolphins backup let it slip to a small group of local reporters that Anthony Wright would be the Ravens' starting quarterback Sunday in Miami.

Wright has been the third-string quarterback since joining the Ravens 14 months ago and would fill in for injured starter Kyle Boller, who had successful surgery yesterday on his torn left quadriceps. Since the surgery has moved his window of recovery up to four to six weeks, team officials said Boller would not be placed on injured reserve.

Until Boller can return - which could be as early as the Oakland game on Dec. 14 - it appears Wright will be holding his job.

When asked about his role with the Ravens, Lucas said, "I know a great quarterback got hurt here and that's a shame. I heard that Mr. Wright is going to be starting this week. There's no pressure on me right now."

A reporter asked Lucas to clarify if Wright was going to start against the Dolphins, to which Lucas replied, "I think that's what I heard. But I don't know that for a fact. I may have stuck my foot in my mouth. That's all I need. I haven't even unpacked yet."

Ravens coach Brian Billick declined to talk to reporters yesterday. A team source confirmed Wright has been given the job and has begun breaking down film of the Dolphins' defense, which is tied for second in the league for fewest points allowed.

On his weekly radio show, Billick said he would announce his starting quarterback today.

"I want to wait and visit with the team about where we're going forward in the interim four weeks until hopefully Kyle can come back," Billick said.

Wright, 27, has not started a game since Oct. 15, 2001.

The five-year veteran made five starts for the Dallas Cowboys, winning once. His eight-game career has been mediocre, with a 46 percent completion rate along with five touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Wright has not taken a regular-season snap with the Ravens. Players were off yesterday and Wright could not be reached to comment.

"As we approached the infamous quarterback competition in training camp, I said you ought not dismiss Anthony Wright from the process," Billick said. "Anthony has definite attributes. He is very athletic. He is very, very strong-armed. And he does have a certain fire about his character, not unlike a Kyle Boller.

"Anthony will be a part of the mix as we go forward dealing with Kyle's situation. He's definitely going to be a factor for us."

That means Wright would move ahead of Chris Redman on the depth chart, marking another setback for the one-time quarterback of the future.

A former third-round pick, Redman won three of his last four starts last season before a back injury ended his year. He was then beaten out by Boller in training camp and hurt his chances of being Boller's replacement with a dismal second-half performance Sunday.

Another factor working against Redman is the game plan designed for Boller can be better run by Wright.

With defenses stacking eight-man fronts to stop Jamal Lewis, the Ravens are looking for a quarterback who can move around in the pocket and capitalize on the one-on-one coverage with deep throws downfield. Redman is more of a stationary pocket passer who hits more intermediate than long passes.

Plus, with Redman being an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Wright likely is a more viable long-term backup to Boller.

Wright has been seeking a chance to prove himself and said Monday, "If I get in, it's going to be hard to get me out."

Wright's time may be limited.

The Ravens are encouraged by their chances of getting Boller back this season. The surgery - which sutured the lateral tear of the muscle - has sped up the original prognosis.

Their optimism is also based on experience. In the first half of the season, Boller has shown the ability to bounce back from injuries quicker than expected, including a sprained shoulder three weeks ago.

"[The doctors] felt like, if all things go well, he can play in four weeks which means the rehab will begin almost immediately," Billick said. "So, it's very good news. That's a very, very positive development."

As insurance, Lucas was signed as a third-stringer.

Lucas, 31, had been sitting at his Florida home since being cut by the Dolphins in late April. He fell out of favor with Miami last season, when he took over a 5-1 team and went 2-4 as the fill-in for injured Jay Fiedler.

But he put up outstanding numbers in his last four starts, completing 65 percent of his passes while throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions. Like Wright, Lucas' strength is mobility.

To make room for Lucas on the roster, the Ravens released little-used defensive end Riddick Parker.

"We just felt like Ray's experience level and his athleticism and what he brings to the table fits where we are right now the best," Billick said.

Lucas' brash style also fits well in the Ravens' confident locker room. Judging by yesterday's inadvertent announcement, Lucas knows how to make a memorable first impression.

"I'm not afraid to speak my mind," Lucas said. "But sometimes my mouth gets my rear end in the trouble."

NOTES: Billick said receiver Frank Sanders (ankle) and tight end John Jones (leg) will both not play Sunday. ... Receiver Kevin Johnson, who has 315 catches in 73 games, was released by the Cleveland Browns yesterday. Ravens officials could not comment on Johnson until he clears waivers today.

Wright's stats

Quarterback Anthony Wright hasn't taken a regular-season snap in two seasons with the Ravens, but he played for the Dallas Cowboys in 2000 and 2001. A look at his statistics in those two seasons:

Statistic 2000 2001

Games/starts 4/2 4/3

Attempts 53 98

Completions 22 48

Completion pct. 41.5 49.0

Yards 237 529

Touchdowns 0 5

Interceptions 3 5

QB rating 31.7 61.1

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