Ravens Update

The Baltimore Ravens took a pass on former starter Kyle Boller, opting instead to sign former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Curtis Painter to a one-year contract.

The Ravens worked out Boller, Painter and former Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Dennis Dixon on Thursday at team headquarters. Although all three performed well by all accounts, Painter had a strong tryout and has a background with Jim Caldwell, the Ravens' quarterbacks coach. Caldwell coached Painter for the past three seasons in Indianapolis prior to being fired by the Colts and hired by the Ravens this offseason.

Painter, 26, is slated to compete with Tyrod Taylor for the backup job behind starter Joe Flacco, who has never missed a start in four NFL seasons.

The Ravens have gambled a bit by carrying just two quarterbacks on the roster for the past two seasons, but are expected to have three quarterbacks this year.

Plus, the Ravens needed to get another arm on the team for their offseason practices. Flacco is expected to be absent from some of the workouts and practices as his wife is due to give birth to their first child in June.

Painter is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound former sixth-round draft pick from Purdue who started eight games last season for the Colts when Peyton Manning was out for the season after undergoing neck surgery.

Painter was winless last season as he passed for 1,541 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions for a 66.6 quarterback rating. Painter was ultimately benched late in the season and replaced by Curtis Painter.

In three NFL seasons, Painter has completed 51.7 percent of his throws for 1,624 yards, six touchdowns and 11 interceptions. At Purdue, Painter passed for 11,163 yards, 67 touchdowns and 46 interceptions. Boller arrived in Baltimore with significant fanfare, hailed as a potential savior for a dormant passing game.

However, the 30-year-old former first-round draft pick was heavily criticized during a disappointing five-year tenure in Baltimore. Boller won only 20 of 42 starts for the Ravens with 45 touchdowns and 44 interceptions on 56.9 percent accuracy.

He was unseated by the late Steve McNair and spent his last year with the Ravens on injured reserve during Flacco's rookie season. Boller has been a journeyman since leaving Baltimore, playing for the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders with mixed results.

He threw no touchdowns and three interceptions last season for the Raiders, starting one game before Carson Palmer took over for the remainder of the year.

REID GETTING READY: Jah Reid knows nothing will be handed to him, definitely not the left guard job that was vacated when Pro Bowl blocker Ben Grubbs signed a $36 million contract with the New Orleans Saints.

However, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound former third-round draft pick is preparing to hold the position where he currently ranks atop the depth chart.

Reid said he can't concern himself if the Ravens draft a guard in the first round or sign one after the draft like Jason Brown or Eric Steinbach.

"I certainly have to go in and expect to play," Reid said. "I want this position, and it's mine to lose. Just keep working, and I'm not going to worry about anybody else coming in. I just need to work on myself."

Reid played in every game as a rookie, primarily appearing in jumbo blocking package. Reid made an impression, though, on right offensive tackle Michael Oher.

"He gives 150 percent," Oher said. "He's very physical. He's going to be give you his all. I'm looking forward to him getting in and making an impact. He's a very physical player, and I'm looking for him to have a pretty good year in there at guard."

Reid is inexperienced at guard, practicing at the position last year and occasionally lining up there at Central Florida.

"Offensive linemen can't be one-dimensional," Reid said. "You have to play more than one position. I like to think I'm well-rounded. Playing mostly right, I have to work a little bit on my left. Playing next to Matt Birk and [Bryant] McKinnie, that's not going to be that bad playing left guard. I just have to go out there and work and get better every day. I think I'm an athlete, and I think I should be able to do it and play the position well."

WEBB WANTS RETURNS: Although cornerback Lardarius Webb is literally a valuable player after signing a five-year, $50 million contract extension, he still wants to remain the Ravens' big-play threat at punt returner.

Last year, he returned a punt for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns and averaged 10 yards per return.

Webb is hoping to stay involved even if he's possibly not the primary punt returner going forward.

"Yes, I would love to be a returner," Webb said. "Just like Ed Reed, he earned that spot to where anytime he felt like he wanted to return a punt, he can go back there and just take it. I think I might have that now where I don't have to do it all the time, but if we need a big return or we just need the ball, I can go back and grab it."

"That's what made Deion Sanders so great, because he was returning kicks and returning punts and returning interceptions to the house. So, that's what made him Deion Sanders. So, that might make me Lardarius Webb."

OHER GETTING HEALTHY: Oher didn't require surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee suffered against the Houston Texans during an AFC divisional playoff game.

Through rest and rehabilitation, Oher is making a sound recovery.

"I'm just now starting to feel good again," Oher said. "A lot of rehab and stuff like that, but starting to feel good getting ready for OTAs and things like that. Just rest and rehab, nothing major."



Kruger looks to fill Johnson's shoes Former second-rounder vying for outside linebacker job

OWINGS MILLS -- Paul Kruger witnessed the master plying his trade as gritty outside linebacker Jarret Johnson put on textbook clinics of the leverage game.

Sleeves rolled up, fists balled up and always on the attack, Johnson aggressively set the edge for the Baltimore Ravens' defense for nine years by using his body as a human wall to fend off blockers and stonewall running backs. Now that Johnson is gone after signing a four-year, $19 million contract with the San Diego Chargers, Kruger is primed to take over his friend and mentor's old strongside linebacker job. In order to win a competition over Albert McClellan or any rookie pass rusher the Ravens might draft, Kruger will need to do his best to emulate the hard-nosed style that Johnson embodies.

"You've got to be a tough guy," Kruger said Thursday at the Ravens' training complex. "Jarret was just one of those guys that just had that pit bull in him to get in there, get it done and kind of sacrifice his body to do what was best for the team. So, that's kind of a role I'm hoping to get real good at is sitting up on a tight end playing that outside 'backer position.

"I do a lot of it at the rush position, rushing the passer and stuff, but it's a little bit different. You've got to be willing to get in there and fight every play, be physical. That's why I play the game, I love that stuff. I'm really looking forward to getting out there and playing first, second, third , fourth down instead of just on third I'm pretty excited." There's legitimate reason for Kruger to be upbeat. One year after operation as a situational pass rusher and recording a career-high 5 1/2 sacks, the Ravens are entrusting the former second-round draft pick with a potential full-time position.

"It's a great opportunity for me," Kruger said. "I couldn't ask to be in a better situation. I'm going to be grinding as much as I can from here until August to prepare myself for camp as much as possible. I'm real excited."

A former defensive end from Utah, Kruger has 27 career tackles, 6 1/2 sacks and one interception. Kruger won't simply be handed the assignment of succeeding Johnson, but the organization is confident in him due to his athleticism, size and how he handled getting knocked around initially at defensive end.

The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has grown significantly stronger in the weight room and has developed his repertoire of pass-rushing moves.

"I think Paul can do even more than what he did last year," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "A lot of people saw that Paul stepped his game up last year. Paul was like black and white to me. His rookie year, he was learning. Last year, it was like this is what they saw in Paul. That's why they picked him up in the second round because Paul is that guy.

"I look for him and Albert to complete for that job. Double-J, that's a big replacement. He was a big part of our defense. As Ozzie [Newsome] recruits, he's always going to bring the next best thing in."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh proclaimed that Kruger was ready to take over for Johnson after watching all of his snaps from last season. And Harbaugh informed Kruger of his assessment. Now, Kruger is hoping to justify that faith and find a home at a permanent position after shuffling between defensive end and outside linebacker in the past.

"It makes all the difference in the world," Kruger said. "It gives you confidence and excitement for something coming up. It gives you an exact direction to go when you're watching film. It's been tough, I think a great learning experience to kind of bounce around. At the same time, it's pretty exciting to have a solidified spot that you know they're putting you into for the opportunity to take over.

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