Injured Boller out vs. Titans

QB's return date uncertain

Wright to step in for Ravens

September 13, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' offense talked all preseason about wanting a change in attitude and results.

Instead, one week into the regular season, the Ravens are experiencing a change at quarterback.

Kyle Boller will miss Sunday's game at the Tennessee Titans with a hyperextended right big toe, handing the Ravens' inconsistent offense to Anthony Wright.

Ravens coach Brian Billick speculated that the often-criticized Boller could be sidelined anywhere from "three weeks to two months" but said a more definitive prognosis will be reached later this week after more tests.

Boller was injured near the end of the third quarter of Sunday's season-opening 24-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, when Larry Triplett rolled up underneath him for a sack. The ligament damage is minimal and the toe is not broken, Billick added.

"What the time frame is beyond the week, I couldn't say," Billick said. "The initial news we're getting is fairly promising."

The earliest Boller would come back is Oct. 2 against the New York Jets, which follows the Ravens' bye in Week 3.

Until then, the Ravens will go with Wright, who hasn't started a game in 20 months but is quite familiar with the situation.

After Boller went down with a leg injury in the middle of the 2003 season, Wright went 5-2 as a starter and guided the Ravens to their first division title.

But he never appeared in a game last season after shoulder surgery late in the offseason sidelined him the entire year.

"The good news is we've been down this road with Anthony," Billick said. "The qualifier is with the year off, Anthony had a lot of rust to knock off. I think he's done that.

"We have won a division with Anthony at quarterback. So we've got a lot of confidence with Anthony. We'll go forward with Anthony for whatever period of time we have to."

During Wright's seven-game run as starter, he led the Ravens to their biggest comeback ever, rallying them from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 44-41 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks.

In the divisional playoffs - which was his last start - Wright kept the Ravens close despite no running game, completing 20 of 37 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown in a 20-17 loss to the Titans.

"First of all, it's unfortunate what happened to Kyle," Wright said. "But I'm always going to try to take advantage of an opportunity to start because those opportunities don't come very often in this league. I'm going to make sure that I go out, not go outside the boundaries of this offense and try to put points on the board."

Wright, 29, remains a popular figure in the Ravens' locker room.

After his up-and-down performance Sunday (214 yards passing, a fumble and an interception returned for a touchdown), he was greeted warmly yesterday by defensive backs Deion Sanders, Samari Rolle and Dale Carter. Sanders even said to him: "I know this man can't do nothing wrong because he's Mr. Wright."

Boller, meanwhile, couldn't muster much sympathy from his hometown crowd. Fans could be heard cheering when Boller was writhing on the ground in pain.

"It doesn't take much of a minority of fans to make their presence heard," Billick said. "Our fans are better than that. The vast majority are."

With Boller hurt, the Ravens have just two healthy quarterbacks: Wright and rookie sixth-round pick Derek Anderson. The Ravens have hinted that Anderson isn't ready to become the backup, which means they have to sign a veteran.

Billick said Kordell Stewart, who was the Ravens' backup last season, would be a "viable" option. Other potential free-agent candidates are: Charlie Batch, who recently was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers; ex-New York Giant Jesse Palmer, who played two seasons under Ravens coordinator Jim Fassel; and Quincy Carter, who was a backup for the New York Jets last season.

"I would love to have Kordell back here," Billick said. "But we're looking at all the usual suspects."

The more pressing issue for the Ravens is to convert yards into points.

The Ravens gained 401 yards against the Colts but were held to single digits for the 15th time in Billick's 97-game tenure, which averages out to about once every six games.

The problem was finishing off drives. In their first five trips into Colts territory, the Ravens produced 59 yards on 25 plays and failed on six of seven third-down conversions.

"We could have done some things that put ourselves in position to win the game," Billick said. "And we didn't."

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-1)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/1300 AM, 102.7 FM

Line: Ravens by 4

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