Redman fighting for his job

<p>The Baltimore Ravens are walking a tightrope between evaluation and developing offensive continuity as they conduct their quarterback competition. The coaching staff continues to monitor the progress of incumbent Chris Redman and rookie challenger Kyle Boller following Saturday night's 13-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.&nbsp; </p>

Both quarterbacks have demonstrated polar-opposite playing styles through half of the preseason schedule. Redman's game is still based heavily on efficiency and sound decision-making. He completed 4 of his 7 attempts for 42 yards in the first quarter with no touchdowns or interceptions for a 74.7 quarterback rating. The offense was limited to a field goal in the first quarter despite reaching Falcons territory three times as Redman was hampered by teammates' penalties and a dropped pass. "He did good things and he did bad things," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, who at least doesn't have to deal with the predicament the Falcons are facing after Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick broke his right fibula Saturday. 

Meanwhile, Boller keeps using his superior arm strength and mobility to get himself out of trouble. However, the first-round pick has been prone to the normal rookie growing pains. Those include a missed read on veteran Atlanta cornerback Ray Buchanan's interception in the second quarter. Boller went 4-for-10 for 33 yards and a lowly quarterback rating of 9.6 by halftime. However, the rookie from Cal showed some resiliency in the second half. Although Boller, 22, was competing against the Falcons' second defense, he still bolstered his case somewhat with a sterling third quarter. Boller completed 5 of his 8 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown to tight end Terry Jones. He compiled a rating of 145.3, finding Ron Johnson downfield twice to set up two scoring drives. "At the quarterback position, you have to have a short memory," said Boller, who finished 9-for-18 for 132 yards. "In the first half, I read their coverage wrong and threw that pick, but you can't dwell on a mistake. "I remember seeing a game where John Elway threw three interceptions in the first half and four touchdowns in the second half. I put mistakes behind me and I get more comfortable with every series I play." 

For the game, Baltimore (1-1) generated 188 passing yards, 2.3 yards per rush and converted only 4-of-16 third-down tries. The Ravens failed to capitalize on ideal field position after Chris McAlister returned an interception to Atlanta's 22-yard line in the first quarter. On 3rd-and-3, Redman's pass sailed slightly behind new receiver Marcus Robinson and it glanced off his hands, making the Ravens settle for a Matt Stover field goal. "You hate to go three-and-out right there when we had such great field position after the turnover," Redman said. 

In Redman's final drive, he began well with first downs to Todd Heap and Travis Taylor. Then, Robinson committed an offensive pass interference penalty followed by offensive guard Bennie Anderson's false start. Then, Stover's field goal attempt was blocked. In a 20-19 loss to the Buffalo Bills to open the preseason, a Redman slant pass deflected off Robinson's hands for an interception. "It's frustrating because you want to catch a lot of balls, you want to make big plays and then you don't," said Robinson, who didn't have a reception against Atlanta. "We just have to get on the same page. That means not getting down on each other. It's all about communication. "When I'm out there, I'm cheering for both quarterbacks and trying to make plays." 

Running back Jamal Lewis has the perspective of being in the huddle with both passers. He finds strength in their differences "They're both good quarterbacks," Lewis said. "I've got confidence in both of them." Billick doesn't give out updates on who leads the competition and hasn't indicated a deadline for when he'll announce a starter. The uncertain situation doesn't appear to bother Redman or Boller. "You probably won't find two more competitive guys than us," Boller said. "I think it just pushes us in practice and makes each other better." 

NOTES: Defensive end Adalius Thomas, who tackled Vick on the play where he was injured, approached the quarterback before he was carted off for X-rays to express his concern. "It was a clean, legal hit," Thomas said. "I walked up and told him, 'God bless you and that you are in my prayers.' He said, 'OK,' but he was obviously in a lot of pain." Tight end John Jones suffered a concussion and aggravated a sore neck. Defensive end Jarret Johnson sprained his shoulder, but is probable for the Redskins game along with cornerback Corey Fuller (strained groin). … Defensive end Nate Bolling leads the Ravens with four sacks this preseason after registering one against Atlanta. He has seven over the last two preseasons. … Johnson caught four passes for 108 yards. … Subbing for injured punter Dave Zastudil, rookie Derrick Frost turned in a 44.8 average, downing five inside the 20. 

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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