Newly-signed Lucas says Wright is starter

OWINGS MILLS - Upon quarterback Ray Lucas' arrival at the Baltimore Ravens' training complex, he might have significantly reduced any mystery surrounding who might start under center against the Miami Dolphins. A few indicators point toward third-stringer Anthony Wright possibly ascending to the starting job instead of former starter Chris Redman in the wake of injured starter Kyle Boller's successful surgery on his torn quadriceps muscle.


When the former Dolphins starter was signed Tuesday to a one-year contract for the veteran minimum and asked to define his role, Lucas said in an interview with four reporters, "I know a great quarterback got hurt here and that's a shame. I heard that Mr. Wright was going to be starting this week. There's no pressure on me right now, which is kind of nice."

Now, Boller is being projected to return in four to six weeks and won't be placed on injured reserve. That means Wright will apparently keep the position warm for him until December.
Ravens coach Brian Billick declined interview requests and said on his weekly radio show that he will announce the starter in a team meeting this morning. A team spokesman said that Lucas doesn't speak for Billick. However, Billick repeatedly emphasized the merits of Wright, the former Dallas Cowboys starter who hasn't played in the regular season in his one year with Baltimore, on the airwaves. "As we approached the infamous quarterback competition in training camp, I said you ought not to dismiss Anthony Wright from the process," Billick said. "All of the focus was obviously on Kyle Boller and Chris Redman. Anthony has definite attributes. He's very athletic. Anthony has a very, very strong arm. "He does have a certain fire about him and character not unlike Kyle Boller. He's a very confident young man who's very effervescent. He has a lot of energy in practice. Anthony will be a part of the mix as we go forward dealing with Kyle's situation. He's definitely going to be a factor for us."

Billick didn't completely endorse Redman on Monday after Redman's dreadful outing  when he replaced Boller in the second half of a 33-22 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Ironically, Redman was unaware of any potential change in his status Tuesday. Having already lost a training camp competition to Boller after recovering from back surgery that cost him his starting job last season, Redman is apparently in flux again. "I'm going to do what I do best, let guys make plays for me," said Redman, who passed for 58 yards with two interceptions and two fumbles against the Rams. "I'm going back to my style of football. I was pressing obviously. "I'm coming back with a little attitude and my goal is to get this team into the playoffs. There's no excuses. There's no quit in me."

Hours before Billick's radio program, Lucas, 31, cited his confidence and willingness to speak his mind to opponents as a personal strength. He wasn't directly referring to his take on the Ravens' quarterback situation, although he might as well have been. "I'm a standup guy," the Rutgers graduate said. "You ask me a question. I'm going to tell you the truth." Lucas started six games for the Dolphins last year, engineering a 26-7 win over the Ravens where he completed 18 of his 26 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown run.

In a career that began as a special teams player with the New England Patriots under Bill Parcells in 1996 before a stint with the New York Jets, Lucas has completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,029 yards, 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. "We liked the athleticism," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We like the arm strength. All the people we talked to, including Mike Nolan who was with him with the Jets, talked about his leadership ability."

During Lucas' final four starts for the Dolphins, he went 57-for-88 with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 99.7 quarterback rating.  The Dolphins went 5-1 under Jay Fiedler, dropping to 2-4 with Lucas. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder and elbow last winter. "I was hurt bad," Lucas said. "I fought through it and did the best I could."

The New Jersey native thought Newsome and Billick were friends playing a joke on him when they called to offer him a job months after his release from Miami. He cursed at them before realizing it was actually the Ravens on the phone. "I moved my seat up from the couch to the front line," said Lucas, who trained at retired All-Pro receiver Cris Carter's speed camp in Boca Raton, Fla. "I've been watching this game for 10 weeks thinking I should be on the sideline. "I was about to have a cigar in my office. I was doing what normal guys do without a job, sitting around getting yelled at by my wife."

Billick reportedly spoke with Jeff George and Neil O'Donnell before settling on Lucas. 

In relief of an injured Vinny Testaverde in 1999 with the Jets, Lucas passed for 1,678 yards for 14 touchdowns and six interceptions with an 85.1 quarterback rating. "He's done it in the league," Ravens director of pro personnel George Kokinis said. "He knows how to manage a team. He can hit all the throws and has got good mobility. He'll have respect in the locker room."

The Ravens released reserve defensive end Riddick Parker to make room for Lucas. They will apparently carry four quarterbacks on the roster until Boller is back. When Lucas was asked to clarify his remark about Wright, he said: "I think that's what I heard, but I don't know that for a fact. I may have stuck my foot in my mouth. That's all I need. I haven't even unpacked yet."

NOTE: Billick indicated an interest in receiver Kevin Johnson, who was released by the Cleveland Browns Tuesday. However, Johnson would have to clear waivers by this afternoon before the Ravens could attempt to sign him.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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