Boller expected to start against Broncos

OWINGS MILLS - Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Kyle Boller incurred a mild sprain of his left, non-throwing shoulder during Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Boller's X-rays were ruled negative afterward, and the injury shouldn't prevent him from starting against the Denver Broncos.

One day after he was body-slammed to the ground by Bengals defensive end Justin Smith, Boller reiterated that this isn't a cause for major concern. "It's painful, as opposed to a problem," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He should be fine, but we'll monitor it very closely."

The remainder of the Ravens' notable injuries includes: fullback Harold Morrow (leg contusion), offensive guard Bennie Anderson (shoulder), cornerback Tom Knight (groin) and running back Jamal Lewis (bruised shoulder).

Free safety Gary Baxter took up the slack in the nickel package in Knight's absence with Will Demps' repetitions increasing, too. Casey Rabach substituted for Anderson from the third quarter on.

"Whenever or wherever they need me to play, I'm going to always be ready," Rabach said.

Receiver Marcus Robinson missed the game with a tight hamstring as a precautionary measure, leading to Dedric Ward's activation. Ward saw action in multiple receiver sets, but didn't catch his first pass as a Raven.

"We're in pretty good shape," Billick said. "I don't know that there's anybody that we have serious doubt for Sunday, but we'll have to wait until Wednesday to get through two days of soreness."

FIRST ACTION: Rookie running back Musa Smith was activated for Sunday's game, returning a kickoff 15 yards. The third-round draft pick from Georgia had been held out previously while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

"He did very well on special teams," Billick said. "We will continue to see if we can get Musa up to take on a little bit of that load to keep the cumulative numbers down on Jamal."

BRONCOS HURTING: The Broncos are down to third-string quarterback Danny Kanell in the wake of starter Jake Plummer's broken foot and veteran backup Steve Beuerlein's broken right pinky finger.

Kanell hasn't started an NFL game in three years and was out of work a month ago and has prior stints in the Arena Football League and an independent baseball league. He completed 12-of-18 passes with a touchdown in relief of Beuerlein in Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Kanell has the options of handing the football off to running back Clinton Portis or throwing the football to former Ravens starter Shannon Sharpe, the top pass-catching tight end in NFL history, along with receivers Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey and Ashley Lelie.

"I realize that because of injury they have quarterback difficulties," Billick said. "I am sure that a lot will be made of it. The quarterback that they are going to has about four times as many starts as my entire quarterbacking corps. I'm not going to feel too sorry for them."

AERIAL PROGRESS: Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap and receiver Travis Taylor combined for 11 receptions, two touchdowns and 267 of Boller's career-high 302 passing yards.

It represents a career-high in yardage for Taylor with 138, including both touchdown catches.

For Heap, it was the second-highest yardage total of his career with 129, tying his mark for receptions with seven.

"It was great to see them make the plays, especially Travis," Billick said. "I know Todd appreciates and enjoys that he was able to impact the game.

"Both are such quality kids that they would trade their performances for the Arizona game any time. As frustrating as it is personally, they would trade it in a New York minute."

QUICK HITS: Although the Bengals' statisticians credited Ray Lewis with five tackles after Sunday's game, the Ravens' film study upgraded his total to a team-high nine tackles. Ed Hartwell was credited with seven tackles by both teams, collecting two sacks. … One week after going 0-for-4 in the red zone against Arizona, the Ravens converted on two of their three chances. … Former Ravens punter Kyle Richardson booted it five times for a 45.8 average for the Bengals, including a 58-yard effort. … Baltimore fumbled four times, losing two.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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