Wright looks for turning point

Prone to interceptions, Ravens QB slipping so far in bid to remain starter

October 14, 2005|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

The turnovers keep growing for Anthony Wright, and his window of opportunity could be closing.

Wright has at least two more weeks to convince the Ravens that they should stick with him as the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, a goal he has fallen short of so far because of ill-timed mistakes.

In four games, he has committed seven turnovers (six interceptions and one fumble), including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. His interception rate (4.7 percent) is tied for fifth worst in the NFL.

"I'm not going to allow anyone to put any extra pressure on me," Wright said. "Quarterbacks in this league throw interceptions. Quarterbacks in this league make mistakes. I'm going to play as well as I can play and let everything else determine itself."

When Kyle Boller went down with a hyperextended toe in the season opener, the Ravens left open the possibility that Wright could keep the job if he played well.

All he has proved is having a habit of pressing at inopportune times.

On the flea-flicker play two weeks ago, Wright threw into double coverage in the end zone rather than hit a wide-open Derrick Mason over the middle. A potential touchdown resulted in an interception in the end zone.

Last Sunday, he threw behind Mason on a sideline route and was picked off at his 37-yard line, a turnover that led to the Detroit Lions' first touchdown. Then, with the Ravens at the Lions' 3, he was intercepted in a crowded end zone because of an inexplicably late pass, taking away a sure field goal.

But the Ravens downplayed the notion that Wright is forcing throws in order to make big plays in his limited audition.

"I don't think he's played the game that way," offensive coordinator Jim Fassel said.

Interceptions have been a constant problem for Wright. He has been picked off at least once in 11 of his 12 games with the Ravens (including one playoff game).

The only time he wasn't intercepted was the comeback win against the Seattle Seahawks in 2003. Take away that game, and Wright has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his Ravens career.

This season, he has six interceptions on 129 attempts, which is an average of one every 21 1/2 passes.

"Turnovers have hurt us a lot," said Wright, who then alluded to the Ravens' minus-9 turnover ratio. "We're turning the ball over and we're not getting enough. It's been tough on us so far."

The blame can't fall solely on Wright.

The Ravens have turned the ball over at least twice in each of the first four games. Their 12 giveaways lead the AFC and put them on pace to break the franchise single-season record.

"If you believe in the law of averages, hopefully there's going to be some sunshine around the corner," Fassel said. "It can't continue this way."

Most of Ravens' turnovers have created big momentum swings.

Four have occurred inside the Ravens' 27-yard line and four others have come inside their opponents' 32 (in field-goal range).

"I tell the guys every week that our goal is to eliminate turnovers," Fassel said. "Some people say don't ever bring it up and it'll go away. I don't believe that. You've got to keep talking about it."

Based on the turnovers made by Wright, it's a strong likelihood that Boller will regain his starting job when he is healthy. The bigger question is when that will happen.

Boller had expected to start practicing this week but couldn't push off on his injured right big toe. His sprained right ankle also has given him problems.

There has been speculation that he could move around more next week and return to practice by the end of the month. It is believed the earliest he could come back to start is Nov. 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Boller has had to take a cautious approach to avoid re-injuring the toe. That could lead to more long-term effects.

"I have no time frame," Boller said. "I'm not a very patient person. And this is one of those things where I need to be patient. It's my career and I need to make sure that I heal it."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Browns@Ravens Sunday, 1 p.m., Ch. 13, 1300 AM, 102.7 FM Line: Ravens by 5 1/2

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