Boller gives thumbs up to his ailing left shoulder

Ravens QB says he's fine

he's throwing with Taylor

Pro Football

April 08, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

A month after having arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller pronounced his non-throwing arm solid, and has resumed throwing with receiver Travis Taylor at the team's training facility.

"I'm 100 percent and doing every weightlifting exercise," Boller said.

The Boller-Taylor combination plans on getting together three times a week until training camp with the expectation that such extensive offseason work will pay off during the regular season.

For Boller, who recently purchased a home in the area, that means year-round residency in Maryland.

"When I talked to [coach] Brian [Billick] and [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] before the draft last year, that was one of the main things - can a California kid come out to the East Coast and make a life out here during the offseason? That wasn't a problem," said Boller, who is healed from the minor operation. "I'm an East Coast guy now, I live out here, and I want to grow with these guys."

Having the starting quarterback in place and in the area at this time of year is rare for the Ravens. Previous years had that position marked with speculation (Jeff Blake's future last year), unstableness (Elvis Grbac's contract situation in 2002) and controversy (the Grbac-Trent Dilfer debate of 2001).

Boller is beginning this season as the unquestioned leader of the offense and with a resolve to improve the Ravens' passing attack, which finished last in the league (140.9 yards a game).

"Peyton Manning once said that he and [Marvin] Harrison live in Indianapolis year-round and throw," Boller said. "The connection those guys have is great, and a lot of it is timing, knowing each other, being on the same page. Having Travis here, hopefully we'll get that connection where I know everything he's doing inside and out."

Spending the offseason together puts the duo on the right track, according to Billick.

"One of the biggest difficulties we've had to overcome, and I'm not trying to make excuses for Travis but I think that's part of Travis not exploding on the scene, is the number of quarterbacks he has had to deal with," Billick said.

"The sooner he and Kyle can develop that nuance, then the better off it's going to be for them, and the better off it's going to be for us."

Receivers Javin Hunter, Ron Johnson and Randy Hymes have also been working with Boller. Despite all the criticism of the Ravens' receivers, those three, plus Taylor, Frank Sanders and possible a first-day draft pick, appear to be the corps heading into training camp.

Trade talks with Cleveland Browns receiver Dennis Northcutt are at a standstill, and the chance of a deal consummating appear remote. The Browns seem unwilling to trade Northcutt to a division rival despite the Ravens offer of a fourth- and seventh-round pick, which is the most lucrative offer thus far for the disgruntled receiver.

Browns outgoing team president Carmen Policy told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer last week that though the Ravens upped their offer from a fifth-round pick, the Browns are not settling for anything below a second-rounder from the Ravens.

"I don't believe anybody will offer them more than what we are offering," Billick said. "Whether that is enough to get them to trade someone in the division, that's hard to say."

With Northcutt likely out of the picture, barring a change of heart by the Browns or a draft-day deal, the impetus to elevate the Ravens' passing game falls on the shoulders of Boller and Taylor, a call both say they are ready to answer.

"This is going to be my fifth year, and this is the first time I've spent the offseason with the quarterback," Taylor said. "We've got a chance to make a connection."

NOTES: The sale of the Ravens to Steve Bisciotti should be finalized as early as today. Bisciotti, who already owned 49 percent of the Ravens, is in the last stage of buying the vast majority of the remaining share from Art Modell. ... The final two preseason games have been set. The Ravens will host the Detroit Lions on Aug. 28 at 8 p.m., and play at the New York Giants on Sept. 2, a game scheduled to start at 7 p.m. The Ravens will begin the preseason hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. before traveling to Philadelphia to play the Eagles on Aug. 20 at 8 p.m.

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