Suggs a starter, Boller behind Redman

OWINGS MILLS - Terrell Suggs' indoctrination to pro football meant an immediate spot near Pro Bowl linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware. Not only in the Baltimore Ravens' locker room, either. The rookie outside linebacker and first-round draft pick took most of the repetitions with the first unit as the Ravens opened a three-day minicamp on Friday. It was the converted defensive end's first work at linebacker after excelling at the line of scrimmage in college.

"Great guys to learn from, I couldn't be in a better situation," said Suggs, 20, who was drafted 10th overall after setting the NCAA single-season record for sacks with 24 last season. "I'm a defensive player still, but the game is a lot faster now. "I've got the two best linebackers in the game to help me out, so I think it's all going to work out."

Despite the presence of veteran Cornell Brown, the plan is to get Suggs acclimated quickly. Brown started 14 games at outside linebacker last fall.

"Anyone is going to fight for his spot, but the best man is going to win," Suggs said. "I really don't know who that is yet because I've never seen him play."

Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Kyle Boller, the Ravens' other first-round selection, worked with the second offense behind starter Chris Redman. Boller is in competition with Redman, but that process is only in the beginning stages.

Based on initial impressions, there won't be any friction between Redman and Boller. Redman telephoned Boller before he arrived for minicamp and invited him out to dinner.

"I think the way Chris has extended himself to Kyle in a competitive situation, that's a lot to ask of a guy," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Boller showed off a strong arm during his first practice with the Ravens, muscling off-balance throws to his tight ends. He also was able to go through his progressions to locate secondary reads downfield.

"At this level, there's not very much time to make mistakes," Boller said. "You've got to know your reads and know where you're going with the ball."

As for when or if he'll be declared a starter, Boller noted how premature it is to begin what's bound to be a summer of speculation and preoccupation.

One year ago, Boller was regarded as a second-day pick or a free agent.

Under Cal coach Jeff Tedford's tutelage last fall, he passed for 2,815 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in leading the Golden Bears to a 7-5 mark.

"My expectations are that I'm going to take it slowly," Boller said. "I'm concerned about understanding the offense. After that, we'll see what happens."

STARTING LINEUP: Although Billick insisted that he has no established starting lineup yet, the offense and the defense did look a bit different.

Former Arizona Cardinals starter Frank Sanders was starting opposite Travis Taylor at wide receiver with fellow newcomer Marcus Robinson receiving lots of work as the third receiver.

Orlando Brown started at right tackle with Ethan Brooks, last year's starter, backing up All-Pro Jonathan Ogden at left tackle.

Will Demps was back at free safety after being replaced late last season by Anthony Mitchell. "Someone has to go out there first," Billick said. "We're a long way from establishing who's on first and who's on second."

INJURED: Tom Knight, who is contending for nickel back duty, hurt his leg during passing drills and didn't return. Knight has a history of hamstring problems.

FREE AGENTS: The Ravens signed 15 undrafted rookie free agents, including Baltimore native and Gilman School graduate Chisom Opara, a receiver from Princeton.

The rest of the signees: LB Amon Arnold (San Diego St.); RB Ryan Brewer (South Carolina); LB Chris Brown (Hawaii); WR Todd Devoe (Central Missouri St.); DT Trey Freeman (Stanford); LB Brenden Givan (Stillman); TE Lamar Hill (New Mexico St.); Airabin Justin (Northern Arizona); QB Grant Noel (Virginia Tech); K Dan Nystrom (Minnesota); CB Artie Smith (Northeastern); WR Hugh Smith (South Florida); LB Nick Stamper (Lambuth) and RB John Tippins (Washington St.).

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