Boller, Suggs have different debuts for Ravens

Kyle Boller felt the instant gratification of firing spirals, eluding defenders and directing an intriguing two-minute drill.

The rookie passer fulfilled the endorsements of the Baltimore Ravens' personnel department and coaching staff with his mobility and arm strength.

The first-round pick drove the offense over half the football field in just over a minute and almost pulled out the Ravens' 20-19 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night to open the preseason.

"It was awesome," Boller said. "I was hoping to get us a win, but that's what football is all about, going down to the wire. I didn't feel pressure. I love that situation. That's why you play football."

Boller thickened the plot regarding the Ravens' ongoing quarterback competition as he delivered a strike to Randy Hymes to bring Baltimore to within one point. His lobbed two-point conversion attempt to Hymes was batted away to end the game. "I tried to tell myself to slow down because you've got a million things you're thinking about," Boller said. "Toward the end, I got a little more comfortable out there."

Meanwhile, Boller's fellow first-round selection experienced a comparatively quieter NFL debut.

Rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs saw significant action with the first defense as a substitute for starter Cornell Brown, but learned that in this league sacks are harder to come by as he rarely threatened the Bills' quarterbacks. However, Suggs' exposure meant competing at both linebacker and defensive end against the Bills' starters while Boller shined against players who may not make Buffalo's final roster.

"I gave myself a C," said Suggs, who was credited with two tackles and a pass deflection with his best play coming when he aggressively pinched inside to stuff Bills running back Joe Burns at the line of scrimmage on a 3rd-and-1. "It's not that good, but it's not terrible, either. It's about average. I think I did pretty decent for my first game."

Last year at Arizona State, the 10th overall pick of the draft set an NCAA single-season mark with 24 sacks.

Linebackers coach Mike Singletary complimented Suggs for his energy, but reserved judgment on his conditioning: "I need to see the film to know if he took any plays off."

In this contest, Suggs, 20, chased Bills reserve quarterback Travis Brown into the waiting arms on one of defensive end Nate Bolling's three sacks. Suggs is still eager for his first sack.

"I didn't get my first one, but it's coming soon," said Suggs, who played in all four quarters and admitted getting winded in the first half. "The coaches told me to be patient, it's going to come. I just couldn't get there. "I'm not going to beat myself up about it. Those guys aren't professionals by accident. They're good at what they do."

Getting back to Boller, the rookie from Cal was good enough to complete 10 of 21 passes for 124 yards with a quarterback rating of 82.2. In his final drive, Boller completed 4-of-7 passes for 54 yards. He also had the presence of mind to spike the football after a reception by Marc Lester to stop the clock one play before his touchdown to Hymes.

"That's the toughest of all situations for a young quarterback is the two-minute, particularly with a group around you that didn't know each other two weeks ago," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Yeah, I think he showed some real poise."

Boller also was the recipient of good fortune on an earlier touchdown drive when his pass hit Bills cornerback Terrence McGee in stride, but glanced off for a reception to Ron Johnson inside the 10. Dameon Hunter's subsequent 1-yard touchdown run tied the game at 13 with 7:52 remaining in the game.

"Sometimes, I guided the ball and tried to be perfect," Boller said. "I just need to go out there and throw the ball. "The speed of the game is incredible. You have to know who's hot. I'm going to get killed if I don't do that. So, I need to be really critical of myself on the tape."

In the third quarter, Boller located tight end Trent Smith downfield, lofting it behind the Bills secondary for 39 yards, although Smith broke his tibia on the play and underwent surgery. As for whether he's ready to wrest control of the Ravens' offense away rom incumbent Chris Redman, who had a solid, efficient outing, Boller said it's too soon for that sort of speculation.

"I've still got a lot to learn about the game," Boller said. "The coaches will know if I'm ready to go or not."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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