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Rookie quarterback (Boller) may start immediately - ESPN - 6/2/03


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Rookie quarterback may start immediately

By Darrell Trimble

NFL Insider

Monday, June 2

Updated: June 2

11:27 AM ET

Kyle Boller completed fewer than half of his college passes and only had one good season at California, but that hasn't stopped Ravens coach Brian Billick from giving the first-rounder a legitimate shot to wrestle the starting quarterback job away from Chris Redman.

"Everything that you saw in Kyle before, we've seen in minicamp," Billick told the Baltimore Sun. "He's got a strong arm, the athleticism and is very intelligent. There's still a long, long way to go. But there has been nothing so far through the eight practices that you go, 'Oh, boy, we missed on this.' It's all been an extension of what we saw earlier."

It's good coaching by Billick to give the rookie a chance to earn the starting job. Redman is coming off a season in which he started only six games because of a herniated disc and he looks strong despite undergoing back surgery in January. But with Jeff Blake out of the picture, Billick can still light a fire under Redman by letting him know he hasn't won his job back, yet.

The chances of Boller actually coming out on top in a quarterback battle are slim, especially since the Ravens consider themselves playoff contenders this year. Redman isn't long on starting experience, but he is familiar with Billick's system.

Still, Billick's love of the deep ball might give Boller a chance.

"He reminds me in a sense of Warren Moon," said Billick. "Now, that's awfully high praise, and you don't want to put him in that stature yet. But Warren's throwing action was so pure and so effortless. The ball had speed, rotation and zip to it no matter what body position Warren was in, throwing off the back foot, scrambling around, just flicking it out with his shoulder going forward. Kyle seems to have that kind of natural, fluid arm strength. It's not a forced action."

Boller does have excellent arm strength. At the NFL Combine he told Insider that he has thrown the ball 81 yards through the air at a standstill, and he also came through on his boast that he could thrown a ball through the goalpost from 60 yards away on his knees. And while Redman can't be classified as a weak-armed quarterback, he hasn't shown that he can chuck it downfield accurately.

Redman's longest completion of the year was 36 yards and he averaged an excruciatingly low 5.7 yards per pass attempt in his six starts. To put that in perspective, Ray Lucas, who was roundly criticized after taking over for Jay Fiedler and has never been considered starting material, averaged 6.9 per pass attempt in his six starts. In case you think it had a lot to do with his supporting cast, his replacement Jeff Blake averaged 7.1 yards per pass attempt with the same players.

However, Billick noted that Redman's arm strength stood out as well.

"When I've said in the past about him surviving training camp, sometimes people think, is he going to get hurt again? It's not necessarily that," Billick told the Sun. "As he goes through a normal training camp and gets bumped around, there's normal fatigue that all quarterbacks have. With Chris, I'm anxious to see if that arm strength sustains itself. Based on what I've seen, it looks good. But we haven't tested it fully yet."

Any glitch in Redman's recovery could open the door for Boller to assume the starting role, unless of course the Ravens want to sign a veteran backup. Unfortunately the pickings are slim, with only players like Lucas available, so Boller might actually stand the best chance of any quarterback drafted this April to start in September.

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Originally posted by Drex

He's an upgrade over Redman, I actually think Boller is going to have some success as qb of the Ravens.

Hate to say it Drex, but I think you're right. As much as I hate the "flying rats", they made a good pick in Boller. We will see come preseason on Aug 23, at Fedex. Hopefully he will be on his back. :thumbsup:

Leftwich said it best when asked about Boller throwing 60 yards from his knees..."I thought the point was to throw the football from a standing position" :laugh:

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