Billick: "Kyle Boller is our starting quarterback"

OWINGS MILLS -- Kyle Boller can regain his job as the Baltimore Ravens' starting quarterback if he's able to recover from a toe injury within the next two to three weeks, according to coach Brian Billick.

In a concerted effort to clarify his statement that Anthony Wright will be the starter until circumstances change, Billick reaffirmed his commitment to Boller on Thursday while leaving himself wiggle room in case the embattled quarterback isn't available for several games.

"Kyle Boller is our starting quarterback," Billick said. "If Kyle is able to return in the two-to-three-week prognosis that we currently have, he will be our starting quarterback. Even though it's a positive prognosis for Kyle, we have been down this road before. What was two to three weeks could turn into five, six, seven or eight.

"Anthony Wright is the starter for an undetermined period due to injury. Kyle Boller is our starting quarterback. If I left that open to interpretation or the way I responded led to speculation that we did not have the faith in Kyle, that our faith in wavering, that was not my intent."

Although Boller remains in a protective boot, the Ravens have projected him as possibly being available against the New York Jets on Oct. 2 following a bye week. Boller hyperextended his right big toe and hurt his ankle during last Sunday's 24-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

"I couldn't push off it right now," said Boller, who doesn't know how long he'll be in the boot. "It's one of those things that's real sensitive. I thought my toe had actually snapped out of my skin. Right now, it's my job and my responsibility to support Anthony and help him out. He did when I was out there."

Attempting to quell criticism of the 2003 first-round draft pick, Billick said that Boller remains the Ravens' long-term answer at quarterback. When pressed on the hypothetical of what will happen if Boller is out longer than his current timetable, Billick declined to specify what he'll do.

The 2003 season represents a guidepost for how the Ravens may act. Boller injured his leg in the 10th game and was healthy enough to return by the 15th week. He wasn't inserted, though, as Wright went 5-2 as a starter and won an AFC North title.

"I can't give you how many games that is," Billick said. "Unless you can tell me exactly when Kyle comes back, how healthy he's going be and what shape he's in, that's one of those what ifs that I can't begin to speculate without a) disrespecting Anthony and showing a lack of faith in him, or b) showing disrespect to Kyle because Anthony's in the game because Kyle is 100 percent ready to go. I can't answer it specifically because I don't have the facts."

The big-picture question of what the Ravens will do for the 2006 season if Wright excels while Boller watches during a prolonged recovery was deemed unanswerable by Billick.

The Ravens have invested millions of dollars in Boller since trading a 2004 first-round pick and a 2003 second-round pick to New England to draft him 19th overall out of Cal-Berkeley. Scrapping the entire project would be a major organizational decision.

"You're asking a question that really is impossible to answer with any player," Billick said. "I'm not trying to be evasive. Some people will want to conjecture that we have a lack of faith in Kyle because I haven't named him the starter for the 2006 season.

"To a man, we are firm and resolute in our opinion and confidence that Kyle Boller is the quarterback we believe him to be and the quarterback of the future and now of the Baltimore Ravens. We feel lucky that we have two very good, if yet still totally unproven quarterbacks."

While Boller's toe mends, his feelings are still hurt after fans cheered while he was carried off the field grimacing in pain.

"I definitely could hear them, I'd be lying if I said that it didn't make me feel that good," said Boller, whose mother is driving him around and cooking him meals while he's in the boot. "Ask yourself the question, if someone booed you when you got hurt, would you feel good about it?

"I think the fans in Baltimore are great. I've been through some tough times. I know there are people that are supporting me and pulling for me. Those people that cheered, they can do that if they want. They have the right to do it."

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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