Ravens' Boller asserting himself

OWINGS MILLS – As the Baltimore Ravens begin two consecutive weeks of minicamps today at their training complex, quarterback Kyle Boller is asserting himself. Entering his third year as a starter, Boller is expected to improve his efficiency and accuracy to try to upgrade the 31st-ranked passing game in the NFL.

"I definitely see myself as a team leader," Boller said. "This is my offense, and it's going to be my job to rally the guys and instill that confidence. Our passing game has struggled in the past, but that's the past.

"We have the future to look forward to. It's my job each day to get out there and work hard. If I'm not a leader, then we got a problem."

Boller improved during his second season, going 9-7 overall as he completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 2,559 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Yet, he finished as the second-lowest rated passer in the AFC with a 70.9 quarterback rating.

Last season, the Ravens averaged only 144.2 passing yards per contest as running back Jamal Lewis, tight end Todd Heap and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden missed a combined total of 18 games.

Having signed two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Derrick Mason and drafted Oklahoma wideout Mark Clayton in the first round, the Ravens are looking for increased yards after the catch after ranking last in the NFL for the past two seasons in that category.

New offensive coordinator Jim Fassel is employing increased motion, and is emphasizing a goal of getting Boller to complete 60 percent of his passes.

"He's the guy," Boller said regarding Fassel, the former New York Giants head coach. "There's going to be one voice and everything he says, it's going to be my job to rally the offense.

"It's very important that we're on the same page. Everything's upbeat with him. It's, 'Get in and get out.' Everything's got to be crisp and we have to reach the bar every day."

NOTES: Today's practice is closed to the media as the team holds a "administrative day." This four-day minicamp is voluntary with coach Brian Billick designating June 13 through June 16 as mandatory practices. It's unclear whether safety Ed Reed or linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs will attend practice this week after skipping all of the previous voluntary workouts. …

The Ravens are in the final stages of negotiations with nickel back Deion Sanders, and he indicated Friday in an interview with Fort Myers, Fla., reporters that an announcement on his status would occur today. Sanders' agent, Eugene Parker, didn't return telephone calls.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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