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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-08-25


Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-08-25


Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-08-25
The Ravens' quarterback battle appeared to be between Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.


When both of those quarterbacks were sidelined with medical issues, rookie first-round pick Joe Flacco played the entire game of the Ravens' 24-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Although Flacco struggled early in his first career NFL start, he impressed the coaching staff with his ability to grow from the first to fourth quarter.

Could Flacco have pushed himself back into the race to start Sept. 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals?

"We'll see," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's a fair question. I just don't know the answer."

This was supposed to be the game where the Ravens would learn if Smith would take control of the quarterback race. But Smith couldn't suit up for the game after battling flu-like symptoms for two days.

The Ravens would have wanted to go with Boller, but he couldn't throw in warm-ups because of a shoulder injury. Boller didn't practice all week because of the injury, which occurred on a hard hit in the second preseason game.

That meant the Ravens had to hand the ball to Flacco, who had played two quarters in the preseason and didn't practice at all with the starting offense last week.

In the first half, Flacco was 4-for-13 for 33 yards. In the second half, he was 18-for-37 for 152 yards and a touchdown.

Flacco's best drive was the first of the second half. He connected on all four of his passes for 61 yards, throwing each time to Derrick Mason. Two plays after a 30-yard throw to Mason, Flacco found him for a 15-yard touchdown on the right side of the end zone.

"I think he's moving pretty quickly up the (learning) curve," Harbaugh said. "You saw it from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. So, he's making a lot of progress."

Flacco, the 18th overall pick in this year's draft, had a rough initiation as a starting quarterback.

He was overthrowing open receivers and getting passes batted back at him. He was penalized for intentional grounding on a poorly run screen play. And he tried to force the ball twice to covered receivers on his first trip in the red zone.

"It felt good," Flacco said. "It was a really good chance for me to get in there and get my feet wet. There are things that I would like to do better. But it's a great learning experience."

The Ravens are unsure how their quarterback battle will unfold.

There is a chance that the Ravens will start Smith in the preseason finale and give him a second chance to prove he can win the job.

Or they could split time between the quarterbacks if Boller is healthy enough to play.

The other option is to give Flacco his second straight start and see if he is ready to start the regular-season opener.

"(Smith's illness) pushes us back," Harbaugh said. "We knew it was a process and you had a hope that it could get answered tonight with Troy. But he didn't have an opportunity to prove that, so we're still looking to make that decision as we go."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 25, 2008

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Steve Edwards Name: Steve Edwards
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