Ravens' Wright maintains poise

OWINGS MILLS -- Anthony Wright stared into a phalanx of microphones and cameras Wednesday and never blinked, raised his voice or speculated about his future beyond his plan to win the next football game.

The Baltimore Ravens' new starting quarterback is maintaining a steady, glad-to-be-back approach as he prepares for his first start following Kyle Boller hyperextending his right big toe. For however long Wright remains the starter – a fluid situation that hinges on his play and Boller's health – the career backup appears poised to make the most of his opportunity Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

"I never looked at myself as a backup, I don't think most of the guys in the league do," Wright said. "I always felt like I could start in this league. It's just the road that I had to go down was a little bit different than others. I respect that.

"I don't listen to the radio or the talk shows. I try to stay away from it, so I can keep myself focused and not get caught up in all the hoopla. I try to make my performance speak for itself and just try to keep a calm and level head."

Ravens coach Brian Billick was noncommittal on who would start when Boller recovers, expressing optimism that he could be back as soon as Oct. 2 against the New York Jets. If Wright excels in the interim, though, it could be an exceedingly difficult decision on who should start. Will it be Boller, the embattled 2003 first-round draft pick, or Wright, the blue-collar journeyman who went undrafted out of South Carolina?

"Anthony Wright is our starting quarterback, and he will be our starting quarterback until circumstances change," Billick said. "That's the only approach we can take. It's not fruitful to tell a guy, ‘You're part-time, and you're out for the season.'

"Kyle's going to be in his boot watching the game this weekend. That's as far forward as we're going to go with it. The focus has to be Anthony's our quarterback until that changes."

Wright hasn't started since leading the Ravens to an AFC North title in 2003, going 5-2 as a starter before a playoff loss to the Titans. He missed last season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that required surgery, and only regained all his velocity during training camp last month.

"It was very tough," Wright said. "Not having the chance to go out there was really tough. I tried to turn that negative into a positive. I appreciate the opportunity every time I step on the field.

"We all know that on any given Sunday, or at any given time, your career can end or something can happen. It's a blessing that I've been able to play this long and do the things I've been through and still be here."

The Ravens (0-1) opened the season with a 24-7 loss against the Indianapolis Colts, failing to capitalize on several scoring opportunities. Little will be altered with the game plan because of Wright's familiarity and playing style.

"One of the nice things about Kyle and Anthony is they have similar attributes," Billick said. "They're both active in the pocket, they both have strong arms, they both move around decently, so we don't have to change a whole lot."

Wright completed 19 of 31 passes (61.3 percent) against the Colts, passing for 214 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for a 65.8 quarterback rating.

In Wright's last start against Tennessee in the playoffs, Baltimore struggled to mount a rushing attack to complement his passing. He completed 20 of 37 attempts for 214 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

"I feel a lot more comfortable with the things they're going to run against us," Wright said. "Hopefully, we can change the outcome compared to last time."

Normally, a quarterback crisis would cause more anxiety. The Ravens, though, have a strong comfort level with Wright because of his experience and knowledge of the playbook and the players in the locker room appear to be embracing the switch.

"The good thing about it is we've practiced with Anthony," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "He got an opportunity to play in the second half. It's not like we're in Week 9 or 10 and all of a sudden you throw him in there. It's not going to be that difficult to switch from Kyle to Anthony. Anthony's a vet. He knows what we need from him."

Wright is striking the stance of an individual with something to prove. He sounds hungry and determined to hold onto this job.

"I want to show that I haven't lost a step," Wright said. "I'm the same guy that helped this team get to the playoffs. Whenever they need me, I'll step up and do what is asked."

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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