No hard feelings

Boller says he is `happy' for Flacco, but he will still fight for job

Quarterback competition

May 03, 2008|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

Kyle Boller was playing in Stan Humphries' celebrity golf tournament last weekend when he received a text message on his cell phone.

It read: The Ravens have drafted Joe Flacco in the first round.

At that moment, Boller went from being the Ravens' one-time quarterback of the future to a quarterback with an unknown future.

"I was pretty prepared for it," Boller said yesterday after the Ravens' second week of minicamps. "I was one of those guys five years ago. I'm happy for him. It's a special time for him, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

The reason the Ravens drafted Flacco with the 18th overall pick was that Boller hasn't lived up to the expectations set upon him when he was drafted in the first round in 2003.

Boller, who turns 27 next month, has not established himself as the starting quarterback, struggling with his consistency and decision-making. But he has the physical tools to be a successful quarterback: size, arm strength and athleticism.

Always known as a consummate team player, Boller said he would help Flacco adjust to the NFL and the Ravens' offensive system.

But personally, seeing a rookie quarterback drafted so high isn't a favorable situation for Boller, who is playing in the final year of his contract.

"The only thing that's going to affect my future is what I do today," Boller said. "I can't really worry about what's going to happen in [training camp in] August. I just worry about the next day. I'm going to go out here every day and work hard and try to do everything I can to be the quarterback I want to be so that I'm the guy under center on opening day."

The Ravens have repeatedly called this is an open competition among Boller, Flacco and Troy Smith.

Coach John Harbaugh said he isn't worried about how drafting Flacco will affect the confidence of Boller and Smith.

"These two guys take it as a challenge," Harbaugh said. "If we had a crystal ball, we would know who the quarterback of the future is going to be. The quarterback of the future is going to be whoever gives us the best chance to win games in the future at that time.

"To assume anything else would be a mistake, except for the fact that, when you've got a first-round pick coming in here, that's the expectation for him. We drafted [Flacco] because we believe he can be that guy. If he's going to be that guy, that's up to him. We'll find out."

Flacco and the other Ravens draft picks will participate in their first minicamp next week, when the Ravens hold their only mandatory offseason workout.

Boller and Smith were the only quarterbacks practicing at yesterday's minicamp, where the players practiced in shorts and engaged in noncontact drills.

"No one is winning a job right now," Harbaugh said. "This is laying a foundation, learning the offense stone by stone. So when they come back for training camp, they've got a chance to win a job because football is played in pads."

Like Boller, Smith is taking this latest development in stride.

The 2006 Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, Smith said he doesn't see himself as an underdog in this battle. All Smith has to do is remember his competition's name.

Said Smith: "Last season we had to use all three quarterbacks, and there's no doubt in my mind that if the chance comes, John Flacco ... that's his name, right?"

A reporter told Smith that it's Joe Flacco.

"I apologize," Smith said. "He is going to be a good quarterback."

The Ravens' quarterback battle has already become the team's most heated issue, one that could be brought up every day this offseason.

Harbaugh was asked whether he's ready for the 20 questions from now until training camp.

"Is it going to be 20 different questions or the same one 20 times?" Harbaugh said with a smile. "But if that's what comes with the territory, in terms of getting a first-round pick, we can live with it."

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