Boller's surgery successful, 4 to 6 week recovery.

OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens struck an optimistic stance regarding rookie quarterback Kyle Boller on Tuesday following a successful surgical repair of his torn left quadriceps. Instead of placing the first-round draft pick on injured reserve and ending his football season, which coach Brian Billick indicated as a strong possibility Monday, the AFC North leaders will hold a roster spot for Boller in hope that he can return before the playoffs.

Now, Baltimore (5-4) is looking for the starting quarterback to be back under center in four to six weeks rather than being out for the season, according to trainer Bill Tessendorf. The prognosis after his surgery by Dr. Craig Bennett at Kernan Hospital, which entailed applying sutures to the damaged muscle, has elevated Boller's projected return from the original minimum of a six-week recovery period. "It was very good news, the surgery went very well," Billick said on his weekly radio show after declining to make himself available to reporters. "Their prognosis, at this time, is he could be ready to go in as little as four to six weeks.  "In clarifying that, they felt he would be ready, if all things go well, to play in four weeks, not just start to rehab in four weeks. Which means the rehab would begin almost immediately. That's a very positive development." 

That would mean Boller, who played his college football at the University of California at Berkeley, could return as soon as the Ravens' Dec. 14 game at the Oakland Raiders, or for the season finale Dec. 28 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens have made a significant investment in Boller, having committed millions of dollars to his contract as well as trading next year's first-round draft pick and this year's second-round pick to New England to draft him 19th overall this spring. 

A team spokesman said team doctor Leigh Ann Curl's examination of Boller's quadriceps revealed that Boller got injured when his kneecap collided with fullback Alan Ricard during the second quarter of Sunday's 33-22 loss to the St. Louis Rams. However, the muscle didn't pull away from the bone, or where the quadriceps attaches to the tendon and patella. It's simply a deep tear inside of the muscle. 

In the case of former Ravens offensive tackle Leon Searcy, he missed an entire season with the Jacksonville Jaguars when his quadriceps became separated from his patella. This is a much less serious injury, though. Boller crutched out of the Ravens' training complex Monday afternoon without commenting on his injury. "I'm definitely worried," Boller said early Monday morning after the game. 

Part of the Ravens' optimism about Boller's return is based on his youth and resiliency. The 22-year-old was battered in the season-opener by the Pittsburgh Steelers' pass rushers, but didn't miss any snaps in practice the following week. He suffered a sprained non-throwing shoulder when he was slammed down by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Justin Smith, but took the majority of the repetitions in practice days later and started the next game against the Denver Broncos. "Obviously, Kyle is just very disappointed because he felt like in the last couple of games it was starting to slow down for him and he was progressing," said Mike Sullivan, Boller's agent. "He'll put all of his energy into getting healthy." 

NOTE: Billick indicated that receiver Frank Sanders (sprained ankle) and tight end John Jones (strained quad) will miss Sunday's kickoff against the Miami Dolphins


Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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