Ravens may have to play without Wright

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens' quarterback situation was red-flagged as passing camp concluded Thursday with the revelation that backup Anthony Wright has a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.

Depending upon the outcome of surgery within the next week, Wright, 28, could be sidelined for the majority of the season, the entire year, or as little as a month. With this type of injury, he would most likely be out three to six months.

This unanticipated development prompted the Ravens to begin exploring veteran quarterback alternatives, although general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team isn't absolutely certain that it will sign one.

"The worst-case scenario is somewhere between four to six months," said Wright, who led Baltimore to its first division title last season after starter Kyle Boller was injured. "My concern is just my time getting back. I thought it was getting stronger, but time told me something different."

Wright said he suffered the injury during an overtime victory he engineered against the Seattle Seahawks with four touchdown passes. Wright passed a post-season physical, but a magnetic resonance imaging exam this week revealed the damage.

"I pretty much fought through it the rest of the year," Wright said. "Initially, I just thought my arm was fatigued."

Because of the potential loss of Wright, whom Baltimore invested a two-year contract this spring reportedly worth $3 million including a $1.5 million signing bonus, the Ravens have been contacting quarterbacks' agents.

The team stressed that any passer that is acquired is unlikely to be someone to pose an obvious challenge to Boller, or create controversy by refusing to accept a reserve role.

The team has previously denied having an interest in former New York Giants quarterback Kerry Collins, who played for senior consultant Jim Fassel in New York. Collins has visited the Oakland Raiders and cancelled a meeting with the Green Bay Packers.

Fassel has said he would like to work with Collins again, but noted that he doesn't have personnel power. Other high-profile names the Ravens were linked to Thursday included Tim Couch and Kurt Warner, but it's more likely that they will pursue a less famous and expensive quarterback.

"We won't rule out anybody," Ravens coach Brian Billick said when asked about Collins. "Obviously, June 1 will be a pivotal date to see who is actually out there. It's the usual suspects, but we have to wait until the market shakes itself out."

Newsome noted that former Ravens starter Chris Redman, who recently underwent shoulder surgery, is not a candidate.

"Right now, we're not certain that we'll sign another quarterback, but we have to be prepared for that possibility," Newsome said.

Besides Boller, the Ravens have sixth-round draft pick Josh Harris and undrafted rookie free agent Brian Gaither.

Wright completed 94 of 178 passes last season for 1,199 yards with nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He compiled a 5-2 mark as the Ravens won the AFC North title, and he started a 20-17 wild-card playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans.

On Nov. 23 against Seattle, Wright said he took a direct shot on his shoulder in the first half, and then endured soreness for the rest of the season. Wright led Baltimore back from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 44-41 win.

"I was in the throwing motion and somebody grabbed my arm," Wright said. "I remember coming out of halftime and feeling a twitch in my arm.

Wright said he knew something was still wrong when he couldn't even throw without pain in warmup drills this week. When he tried to alter his throwing motion to alleviate the pain, Wright said it hurt his triceps and back muscles.

"I came back about two weeks ago, tried to throw the ball and was having the same problems," Wright said. "Of course, I want my recovery time to be fast and I want to be able to come back as fast as I can, but that's all in the man upstairs' hands. There's nothing I can do about it."

NOTES: Billick said it may not be prudent for cornerback Gary Baxter to participate in next month's veterans camp after undergoing off-season hernia surgery. "He's very frustrated about not being out there," Billick said. … Safety Will Demps blitzed quarterback Kyle Boller on the first play of drills, leading to cornerback Ray Walls' interception for a touchdown. Boller later connected with Kevin Johnson on a crisp crossing pattern for a score. … Running back Musa Smith on being prepared in case Pro Bowl runner Jamal Lewis is unavailable because of federal drug conspiracy charges, or an injury: "Everyone always says you're one play away from starting. Not that I want something to happen to Jamal, but I've got to be ready regardless." … The Ravens released three undrafted rookie free agents: receiver Robert Quiroga and linebackers Phil Smith and Cols Colas.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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