Palmer, Boller: two approaches to QB development

OWINGS MILLS - Carson Palmer and Kyle Boller emerged as instant millionaires before either quarterback delivered a spiral in an actual NFL game. <br><br> Yet, the two Southern California natives and AFC North rivals had vastly different initiations to the league a year ago. <br><br>

Meanwhile, Boller was essentially handed the football shortly after leaving the Cal campus and being drafted 19th overall last year. He went 5-4 as a starter before undergoing surgery on his quadriceps and finished as the second-lowest ranked passer last season.

Two divergent philosophies toward developing quarterbacks will be on display Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium when the Ravens (1-1) play the Bengals (1-1) as Palmer starts his third game and Boller enters his 14th start.

"It kills me to be on the bench, watching," said Boller, who demonstrated signs of improved efficiency during last week's 30-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Carson had that year to kind of learn things in a different way. All I can say for myself is that year of experience that I got really helped me out and I feel more comfortable now."

Both quarterbacks have strong arms, grew up outside Los Angeles (Palmer in Laguna Hills, Calif, and Boller in Newhall, Calif.), and competed against each other for four years in the Pac-10 Conference. Boller said he considers Palmer a friend.

The 25-year-old Palmer is taller, heavier and two years older than Boller, who has better mobility. Besides Palmer's prototype size at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Boller's experience and the Bengals' superior talent at wide receiver divide them.

"I had the chance to sit back and learn from Jon and watch him handle the team and handle games, so I think it was good for me," Palmer said of Kitna, who passed for 3,591 yards, 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in an 8-8 campaign. "As he'd stand on the sideline as the opposing quarterback was playing, he would point out the things he was doing right and wrong. He was just a great teacher."

In his first start, Palmer completed 18 of 27 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals lost 31-24 to the New York Jets. Palmer tossed a 53-yard touchdown strike to Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson, but his late interception thwarted a comeback attempt.

"I think the toughest thing is just adjusting to the game," Palmer said. "It's a lot faster. It's a lot more complicated."

Palmer endured five sacks last week, completing only 9 of 18 passes for 59 yards in the first half of a 16-13 win over the Miami Dolphins. He engineered a 59-yard drive in 10 plays to set up the game-winning field goal by Shayne Graham with two seconds remaining.

The Ravens' blitz-oriented defense will try to generate a similar dose of pressure. Baltimore is 5-2 against first-year quarterbacks dating back to 1999.

"I haven't played against him in this league, but Carson was good at getting the ball out on time in college," said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who sacked Palmer regularly while at Arizona State.

"He's a professional quarterback and he wasn't a No. 1 pick by accident."

During that winning drive, Palmer went 7 of 8 for 53 yards. He totaled 147 passing yards on 21 of 38 accuracy.

"He stayed poised throughout the game," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "Especially when the game came down to crunch time and we needed yardage to stay alive."

Through two games, Palmer has completed 60 percent of his passes (39 for 65) for 395 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 74.8 passer rating.

Boller has completed 57.1 percent of his passes (32 of 56) with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 56.3 rating.

The comparisons between the two young quarterbacks are unlikely to stop anytime soon they will face off twice annually in the AFC North.
"It's hard to evaluate the two," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "These guys are going to be around each other for a long time, so it's a little early to start drawing those contrasts. Unlike you all, I actually want to see a few more games before I put a guy in or out of the Hall of Fame. I like where our guy's at. I'm sure they like where their guy's at."

NOTES: The Ravens officially ruled out tight end Todd Heap (sprained ankle) and receiver Travis Taylor (groin) Friday, downgrading them from doubtful on the injury report. Offensive tackle Ethan Brooks (knee) and nose guard Kelly Gregg were downgraded from questionable to doubtful for a 25-percent chance of playing.

Baltimore will likely be without five starters, including center Mike Flynn (broken collarbone) and outside linebacker Peter Boulware (knee). Receiver Devard Darling (heel) is probable. Nickel back Deion Sanders (hamstring) remains questionable, but is unlikely to play after barely practicing all week. "Wait until game time," Billick said of Sanders' status.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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