Team gives Boller a warm welcome day after surgery

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Quarterback targets Dec. 14 game at Oakland for his return from injury

Ravens notebook

Pro Football

November 13, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller was bothered nearly all day Tuesday by the thought of the impending meeting with his teammates set for the next morning.

It was why Boller could not open up about his feelings regarding his quadriceps injury, which is expected to keep him out the next four to six weeks, until yesterday.

"I feel like I've let my teammates down," Boller said. "It's an injury, but I want to be out there on the field with them battling. I've been through so much these first nine games, so anything I can do to be back out there with them, I'm going to rehab and make sure I'm back there as soon as I can be."

Boller later realized that feeling of letting his teammates down is as untrue as it is irrational. He was received well yesterday, and the coaching staff is still holding out hope he will be able to return before the end of the season after having successful surgery on his torn left quadriceps Tuesday.

Anthony Wright will start for Boller in the meantime beginning Sunday at Miami.

"[Tuesday] night, usually the quarterbacks come in at 8 o'clock and pick up the game plan," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "[Boller] called Matt Cavanaugh and apologized and asked if it would be OK if I don't come in tonight since he was still drugged up and not five hours from surgery. That's the kind of young man he is."

Boller said he thinks he sustained the injury after a collision with fullback Alan Ricard late in the first half of Sunday's 33-22 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Though he continued for another series, Boller admitted he was basically throwing with nothing but his arm and had little use of his left leg.

The setback retards the development of a rookie quarterback whose confidence seemed to grow after every throw. Boller had thrown for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Rams.

"I'm getting there," Boller said. "It's frustrating, hard to go through something like this. I have to stay positive. I've got the surgery, and hopefully I'll be able to come back. I'll start rehabilitating right now, and I have a good shot at being back before the season is over. I'm shooting for Oakland [Dec. 14] right now.

"Things were starting to click. I'm starting to see things, throw the ball well. But I have to use this as a temporary setback."

Lucas to relay knowledge

Quarterback Ray Lucas, who signed with the Ravens on Tuesday and practiced for the first time yesterday, still plans on running his mouth.

This time, though, it may be to the benefit of the Ravens. Lucas started six games last season for the Miami Dolphins under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, and is willing to tell everything he knows.

"Coach [Mike] Nolan, me and him go way back," Lucas said of the Ravens defensive coordinator, who was the New York Jets defensive coordinator in 2000 while Lucas was there. "As soon as I came in, I went to go say hello to him. If he wants to know anything, I'm willing to give him anything he wants."

As for Lucas' slip Tuesday when he accidentally announced the starting quarterback, he smiled about the situation and quipped, "That's the last piece of information you all are getting from me."

Fuller off injury list

The Ravens got a bit of good news on the injury front. Cornerback Corey Fuller was not listed on yesterday's report after missing the past two games with hamstring and groin problems.

Just what exactly that means for the secondary, the Ravens either are not saying or have not decided. "I played cornerback before I got hurt," said Fuller about a possible switch to safety. "I'm going to play cornerback when I come back."

Gary Baxter, who has started most of the season at safety, has replaced Fuller at cornerback, and the team may choose to keep him there and work Fuller in sporadically.

Meanwhile, tight end John Jones (leg, doubtful) and wide receiver Frank Sanders (ankle, doubtful) are not expected to play Sunday. Wide receiver Marcus Robinson (leg), running back Chester Taylor (leg) and wide receiver Travis Taylor (chest) are all probable.

R. Johnson sighting

With Sanders out, Ron Johnson will resurface as the team's No. 3 receiver after spending the past three weeks a healthy inactive.

Billick specifically called out Johnson during his interview session yesterday, wanting the second-year player to take advantage of this opportunity.

"I know I slacked off when I had the surgery," said Johnson, who has one catch this season and missed two games after minor knee surgery. "I was down because I knew I wasn't going to play for at least two, three weeks. It's just a lot different now going into meetings, knowing I'm going to play in three-receiver sets."

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