- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

OWINGS MILLS, Md. Chris Redman certainly has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. And that's just the last three starting Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks.

After serving the past two seasons as an apprentice to Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer and Elvis Grbac, Redman saw that Dilfer was good enough to win a Super Bowl, Banks was just plain bad and Grbac's decision-making was ugly.

Now Redman's wait as a clipboard holder has finally paid off. The third-year pro out of Louisville has been named coach Brian Billick's opening day starter against the Carolina Panthers. Case closed.

Only two days after the Ravens signed veteran free agent Jeff Blake, Billick kicked off the team's first three-day minicamp yesterday by eliminating any immediate quarterback controversy.

"We've made it very clear to Jeff that this is not going to be an open competition in training camp," Billick said. "But Chris understands that life in the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-us-lately type of thing."

Redman, who owns the NCAA all-time record for completions (1,031) and attempts (1,679) and is second all-time in passing yardage (12,541), has attempted only three in his professional career.

In his first two seasons, the 6-foot-3, 223-pounder was designated as the third-string quarterback. With the Ravens in a rebuilding mode after losing 15 starters via the expansion draft, free agency and the salary cap, Redman is being called upon to be a team leader.

"I've sat around for two years and been around a lot of different quarterbacks, and I took a little bit from each guy," said Redman, who holds every Louisville passing record. "Until you get the snot knocked out of you the first time on the field, you don't really get all the trust from all the players."

Redman, 24, was promoted to starter last month when the Ravens released Grbac, who refused to renegotiate his contract. One of the many knocks against Grbac was that he was soft and couldn't take a hit.

The Ravens won't have that problem with Redman, who is as tough as they come. During his senior season, Redman twice received stitches in his chin at halftime without taking painkillers. In the game where he set the NCAA record for completions, he needed five stitches.

"Hopefully, I'll set an example through the way I play," Redman said. "There's going to be less pressure. I don't want to say that we are rebuilding, but we have a lot of young guys that we have to get used to and comfortable with. I know with the ups and downs, it's not always going to be real smooth."

Said Billick: "He's had a lot of guys to watch good and bad. The timing is very good for him. It's the third year, [and theres] a lack of a veteran, so he can assert his leadership, it's a great opportunity for him."

Notes Five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis has been excused from attending this weekend's voluntary minicamp. Billick said Lewis' absence has nothing to do with his ongoing negotiations to re-work his contract. "He has some pressing business in Atlanta, and he's excused to take care of that," Billick said. … The Ravens signed more than 30 rookie or first-year free agents. The largest group ever signed by the team includes three running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, five offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, six linebackers and five defensive backs.

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