Billick's decision a surprise to Redman

Backup quarterback informed Tuesday night he wouldn't start Sunday

November 13, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Chris Redman arrived at the Ravens' practice facility Tuesday night ready to begin the game plan as the starting quarterback against the Miami Dolphins.

By the time he sat down, he sustained the roughest blindside hit of his tumultuous four-year career.

Coach Brian Billick and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh informed Redman that he would remain the backup and third-string Anthony Wright would leapfrog him into the starting role. Once the team's quarterback of the future, Redman is now no longer seen as an option in the present.

"It was a definite shock," Redman said. "It's been a roller-coaster ride and it's been tough. But I'm a tough guy and I can handle it. We have seven games left in the regular season and the opportunity can definitely present itself again. Obviously, I will come in with a little bit different attitude."

The shuffling of the depth chart is a gamble for the Ravens.

Redman, who threw just three interceptions in six starts last year, already showed instability in replacing injured starter Kyle Boller on Sunday, when he went 7-for-12 for 58 yards with two interceptions and two fumbles. Now, by moving Wright past him, the Ravens delivered another vote of no confidence in Redman.

If Wright is injured or struggles horribly, there's a perception that they can't rely on Redman because he is damaged goods.

"I'm greatly concerned [about his confidence] and I'm going to try to help Chris through this as best we can," Billick said. "I've been through this scenario before. We want to help this young man prepare in the event that he has to go in. He understands that. This is a tough game and a lot of things happen.

"You can help an athlete as best you can but at some point, that confidence and inner strength has to come from within. Chris has that. I think he'll handle the challenge very well. I wish this could be different for him. But it's not and I'll wager he'll handle it very well."

There is no guarantee that Redman will not drop further on the depth chart. By signing Ray Lucas on Tuesday to be the third quarterback, the Ravens could have another option at quarterback once he learns the system in a couple of weeks.

When asked if Redman would remain the backup for the next few weeks, Billick said, "Check with me next week."

The move is another emotional setback for Redman, who lost his starting job to injury last year and then lost the open competition with Boller in training camp. It seems that the former third-round pick has fallen out of the team's plans after receiving just six career starts and throwing 198 passes.

Billick denied criticism that he has a personal dislike for Redman.

"I wish this scenario were better for Chris," Billick said. "There's no better young man in the world. It's just not the way it's going to be right now. It's nothing more than that."

When asked if Redman played himself out of the starting job with his subpar performance Sunday, Billick said, "That's speculation that I'm not going to get into. What we are and what we need to do now to win football games while waiting for Kyle to get back to us suits Anthony Wright."

Redman said he has never felt slighted by Billick.

"I think right now the feeling is the offense is a little bit of a unique one," Redman said. "They think Anthony's game may be suited better. I think I could take this team to the playoffs. The decision has been made, I have to live with it and move on."

Although Redman played poorly, he didn't have much preparation time.

Throughout the season, Boller has received most of the snaps in practice because he needs experience as a rookie. That has cut down the work of Redman, who normally takes one or two reps with the starters each day.

He hasn't taken a majority of snaps since training camp.

"I know I can play on this level," Redman said. "It's not a matter of a lack of confidence. It's just a matter of getting the right opportunity."

Despite Redman's struggles in limited action, he has not totally lost the confidence of the locker room.

"Chris goes out there and does not make one excuse for what happened," said tight end Todd Heap, one of Redman's closest friends. "He knows he made mistakes and he hasn't lost any confidence. He's still a great quarterback in my mind. There's no question that he's going to battle through it."

There is a possibility that Redman may have seen his last action as a Raven. Currently under a one-year, $1.2 million contract, Redman will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and likely will part ways with the Ravens.

But Redman said he has not thought about his future with the Ravens or elsewhere.

"I know I will have an opportunity somewhere down the road," Redman said. "I just have to make the best out of it and I will."

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (5-4) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-4)

Site: Pro Player Stadium, Miami

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Dolphins by 6

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