Wright may remain QB, depending on results

Even when Boller is ready, Billick might stick with Ravens' new starter

September 15, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Coach Brian Billick left open the possibility yesterday that Anthony Wright could remain the Ravens' starting quarterback even after Kyle Boller recovers from a toe injury.

Boller, who is wearing a protective boot on his right foot, could return as early as the Ravens' Oct. 2 game against the New York Jets.

When asked if the starting job would be given back to Boller, Billick declined to talk about the future of the quarterback position.

"Anthony Wright is our starting quarterback, and he will be our starting quarterback until circumstances change," Billick said. "That's the only approach we can take. Anthony Wright is our starting quarterback, and Kyle will be in a boot watching the game this weekend. That's about as far as we're going to go forward with it."

In a year in which the entire organization has consistently expressed confidence in Boller, this marks the first time that the Ravens have wavered.

Boller has come under heavy scrutiny since a rocky preseason in which he threw two touchdown passes and turned the ball over five times. In the season opener, he completed 15 of 23 passes for 141 yards, but the offense failed to generate any points in three quarters under him.

With Boller injured, Wright gets his first start since guiding the Ravens to the playoffs in 2003. If he has success, there is a chance his run as the starter could extend beyond Sunday's game at Tennessee.

"It's not fruitful to tell a guy that you're the guy part time or tell the other guy that you're out for the year," Billick said. "You just don't do that."

He then added: "Make it easy on yourself. Go back and check your notes from two years ago. However we approached it then, that's what we do now."

In 2003, Wright took over in the 10th game after Boller went down with a leg injury. Boller had recovered by the 15th game, but the Ravens stayed with Wright (who went 5-2 as the starter) through the playoffs.

"If Anthony continues to be productive and we continue to be in a playoff fight, Anthony will remain the quarterback," Billick said in November 2003. "He's earned that for now."

Under those guidelines, the Ravens won't make a change back to Boller as long as they're winning and Wright is an integral part of it.

Wright said he doesn't think about whether it's his job to lose.

"I want to show them that I haven't lost a step, that I'm the same guy that helped this team get to the playoffs a couple years ago," he said.

The players don't see the change at quarterback as much of a transition. This marks the 10th time the Ravens have switched quarterbacks (because of performance or injury) in Billick's seven-year tenure.

"If it were a rookie or someone who never started, there would be some concerns," left guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "Knowing what Wright can do, it doesn't concern me too much. When he stepped in [Sunday], he just picked up where he left off."

Said receiver Derrick Mason: "[Wright and Boller] command respect and get it from the players. Other than that, I see them both being sort of the same type of quarterback. They just want to go out and win ballgames. It's not going to be that difficult to switch from Kyle to Anthony."

The playbook will remain essentially the same as well, according to Billick.

"One of the nice things about Kyle and Anthony is they have similar attributes," Billick said. "They're both active in the pocket, they both have strong arms, they both move around decently, so we don't have to change a whole lot."

The Ravens' biggest decision this week is at backup quarterback. The Ravens re-signed 11-year veteran Kordell Stewart yesterday but did not name him the No. 2 quarterback yet.

If Stewart can show he has a grasp of the offense, he will be the Ravens' backup Sunday. If he doesn't, the Ravens could be an injury away from playing rookie Derek Anderson.

"It's not like I am starting out on a brand-new system," said Stewart, who was the Ravens' backup last season. "I think I am comfortable with the people around me. I am just trying to get used to Coach [Jim] Fassel and his philosophies. [But] they'll make that decision."

Boller vs. Wright

How Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright have fared with the Ravens:

QB G-GS Com.-Att. Pct. Yds TD Int Rating

Boller 28-26 389-711 54.7 3,960 20 21 67.9

Wright 8-7 113-209 54.0 1,413 10 10 69.7

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