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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-08-22

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-08-22

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-08-22
Halfway through the preseason, the Ravens remain undecided on their starting quarterback.

In the Ravens' 23-15 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Troy Smith and Kyle Boller continued to struggle, which could push back Baltimore's decision on naming a starting quarterback. The Ravens might wait until after the third preseason game.

That third game will be started by Smith, who appears to now have the edge in the battle to start the regular-season opener.

In his first start of the preseason, Smith had more yards rushing (35) than passing (25) against the Vikings. Boller didn't fare any better, failing to lead the offense past the Vikings' 38-yard line.

To make matters worse, Smith and Boller threw interceptions on their last passes of the game.

"I think they had some good moments and not-so-good moments," coach John Harbaugh said. "I think they both showed they can move the football in this league."

Smith had little production in one half of work, completing three of five passes for 25 yards. The Ravens scored on their first series with Smith, but they were carried by rookie running back Ray Rice (55 yards on the drive, including a 6-yard touchdown).

Smith didn't connect on a pass over 10 yards and was intercepted on a pass thrown behind receiver Mark Clayton.

"It felt pretty good, but there were definitely some situations where we could've done better," said Smith, a former Heisman Trophy winner. "That's what the preseason is all about, where you go out and keep learning. Then you come out stronger in the regular season."

Starting the second half, Boller failed to capitalize on Smith's subpar performance, going 8-for-12 for 40 yards. He didn't complete a pass over 11 yards and was picked off by rookie Brandon Sumrall.

It's difficult to tell which quarterback is ahead when looking at the ragged ratings of Smith (33.3) and Boller (36.8).

"It's hard to say what kind of separation it was or wasn't," Harbaugh said. "You have to look at the tape."

Smith and Boller have struggled so badly that one reporter asked if rookie first-round pick Joe Flacco still had a chance to start the regular-season opener.

Flacco nearly led a comeback in the final two minutes of the game, throwing for 74 yards on 10-for-15 passing. His final pass -- which could have helped send the game into overtime -- sailed beyond the end zone and never came close to intended receiver Justin Harper.

"By the basis of practice and what (Smith and Boller have) done so far has separated themselves from Joe," Harbaugh said. "It's not to say it couldn't happen. But right now, they've moved ahead of him."

It's troubling to see Smith struggle at a time when he could have moved ahead of Boller.

The biggest change in Smith since last season has been his throwing motion. Trying to get Smith to release the ball quicker, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron shortened his delivery by lowering his arm.

"The long stride that I had before, which sometimes helped me (in college), is not going to help you that much in the NFL," Smith said. "Guys who are incredible quarterbacks like Joe Flacco can sometimes get away with it, but I had to change mine up so I could compete."

Cameron has been impressed with Smith's adjustment.

"He has worked as hard in the offseason from a technical standpoint as any quarterback I've been around," he said.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 22, 2008

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