Change is good, Ravens' Boller says

QB: New coaches, players `really going to help us'

Pro Football

April 01, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

This offseason has already been unlike any other in Kyle Boller's three-year career. The Ravens quarterback has lost his two most experienced receivers, has a new quarterbacks coach and will have a different play-caller, changes that can sometimes doom a developing quarterback.

The constant? Boller's outlook, which as it has been since the Ravens drafted him in the first round, continues to define unwavering optimism.

"Ultimately, in the long run, [the changes] are really going to help us," Boller said. "There needed to be change. We need to be more productive on offense. We need to get the passing game going.

"Me coming into my third year, my numbers have gotten better each year, and I think they will drastically improve. The game slowed down so much for me the last four or five games that I can't wait for the next season to start because it gets so much easier."

Boller, who spent part of yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium teaching football drills to contestants from the Miss USA pageant, will not be the only quarterback adjusting to change. Thirteen teams will enter the 2005 season with a different offensive coordinator. Boller's adjustment figures to be less daunting, considering Jim Fassel, hired in January to replace Matt Cavanaugh, was at least with the team as a consultant last year.

Fassel and Rick Neuheisel, who was hired in January as quarterbacks coach, have already started in on Boller. The Ravens began their three-month conditioning program this week, and Boller is expected to spend three to five days a week working with the coaches to improve his third-down completion percentage (.529 last year) and his accuracy on intermediate and deeper throws.

"I'm real anxious to start throwing as many times a week as I can, but you've got to pace yourself," Boller said. "It's great that I like working out in the mornings, then watch some tape in the afternoon."

Boller dismissed the idea of a possible regression because of the coaching changes and the subtraction of receivers Travis Taylor and Kevin Johnson, whose losses should be offset by the addition of Derrick Mason.

Last offseason, Boller and Taylor put in countless hours on the practice field only to watch that work fail to materialize during the season (Taylor finished with 421 receiving yards and no touchdowns). Boller expects the same dedication with Mason, but with better results.

"I've worked with [Mason] a couple of times this week, and he'll be here next week," Boller said. "He has a kid and a family [in Nashville, Tenn.], so he'll hopefully be out here back and forth. We'll have plenty of times before passing camp to get together and get that offense down. He's a great route-runner. He's 30 years old and knows how to play the game. It's going to be a good combination."

Boller would apply that statement to all the changes within the offense.

"I'm more excited than anything," Boller said. "I just want to go out there and play and get things going. I think people are going to be really happy with the changes the organization has made, and we're going to do some positive things.

"Our passing game does need to improve. It's always been a defensive team. You want to have a great defense, but you also want a great offense. You want people to talk about our offense, and I think that is going to happen."

NOTE: Free-agent guard Bennie Anderson signed a three-year, $5.1 million contract yesterday with the Buffalo Bills. He played the past four seasons with the Ravens, who didn't try to re-sign him.

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