- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

WESTMINSTER, Md. — Let the Baltimore Ravens quarterback competition begin.

Rookie Kyle Boller officially entered the fray yesterday with his first full practice in pads with the team. And judging by the first reviews, he will likely serve as formidable competition for incumbent starter Chris Redman and fifth-year backup Anthony Wright during training camp and preseason.

Boller, who ended a three-day contract holdout last week, directed an impressive 75-yard scoring drive at the end of the morning practice and showed the arm strength, accuracy, vision and intelligence that prompted the Ravens to draft him with the 19th overall pick in April.

“It was a good drive,” Boller said of his field goal-ending drive. “Anytime you can drive 75 yards, you got to make sure you get seven points, though — three is not good enough. … It’s great to be out there and go over protections. I think it was a successful first practice, and I hope to have a better one in the second one.”

The mistakes Boller made during seven-on-seven drills really weren’t his fault. He was intercepted by safety Gary Baxter when his tight end (Terry Jones Jr.) ran the wrong route. In what was supposed to be a non-contact drill for backs and receivers, Boller was sacked from behind when second-year left tackle Damion Cook blocked rookie linebacker Terrell Suggs, the Ravens’ other first-round draft pick (10th overall), into Boller and he rolled up on Boller’s legs.

“It feels good sometimes when you get stuff like that, especially when you’re not supposed to get hit, it gets you going. I’m ready,” Boller said.

Despite missing a week of camp, the Ravens’ new $8million quarterback is not that far behind. Boller already participated in two passing camps and two minicamps. The most important thing was coach Brian Billick liked what he saw from of his young quarterback in his first live action.

“He seemed very poised, he seemed to understand what is going on, so it was good,” Billick said.

However, Billick would not discuss how much playing time his 6-foot-3, 230-pound rookie would see in the Ravens’ first preseason game Saturday against the Buffalo Bills at M&T; Bank Stadium.

Asked how he would use Boller, Billick replied, “In conjunction with the other quarterbacks.”

Boller looked sharp. He worked the sidelines and found his running backs underneath. He hit wide receiver Marcus Robinson on a 40-yard fly pattern down the right sideline and had quite a few on-target passes dropped by his receivers.

“That’s what you’ve got to expect. He played quarterback in college [California], he’s the 19th pick in the draft, so you’ve got to expect a guy like that to come in and feel comfortable in the offense,” wide receiver Travis Taylor said.

Boller, 21, said going against the Ravens’ ferocious defense and facing the likes of Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Chris McAlister and Ed Reed, is like dodging live bullets.

“It’s awesome to have such a good defense coming at you,” Boller said. “You get the best reps that way.”

Offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said Boller has a good grasp of the Ravens’ offense and showed it despite being a week behind.

“He wasn’t that far off,” Cavanaugh said. “We would have loved to had him here the first week. He’s done a good job. I know that he’s been studying [the playbook] and looking things over because you can tell when he’s given a play, he calls it, and has a pretty good idea of what is happening.”

Note — Veteran linebacker Bernardo Harris, who started 12 games last season at middle linebacker for Lewis, broke his left fibula yesterday and is expected to miss four to six weeks. … Wide receiver Javin Hunter also was hurt and will miss the entire season with a ruptured right Achilles’ tendon. … Safety Ray Perryman dislocated his left shoulder and is out indefinitely.

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