Wright hoping to rebound from slow start

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens' arrested development has mirrored the halting progress of substitute quarterback Anthony Wright. In place of injured starter Kyle Boller, Wright has registered as many points for the opponents with a pair of interceptions returned for scores as he has with his two touchdown passes.

He has tripped over his own feet, and been undone by his suspect offensive line. He has stared down his primary read, and he has fumbled once to contribute to the Ravens' 0-2 stumble.

In a 25-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Wright completed 25 of 40 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He was sacked six times.

"I was anxious," said Wright, who started his first game in two seasons. "I was very much ready to go out and play. I think as time goes along I'm going to be more aggressive and be myself within this offense."

Although Wright ranks 25th in the league with a 70.5 passer rating, Ravens coach Brian Billick pointed Friday to how Wright performed two years ago after a shaky start.

"Past is prologue," Billick said.

Billick has a point.

In 2003 following Boller's leg injury, Wright was a surprise starter against the Miami Dolphins leapfrogging backup Chris Redman.

He struggled in that debut, completing 14 of 25 passes for 112 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions as the Ravens lost in overtime. His passer rating was a paltry 34.1.

One week later, Wright engineered the top comeback in franchise history with a 44-41 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks. Wright threw four touchdowns and no interceptions with 319 yards and a 119.1 passer rating.

"I hope that's the kind of progression," said Billick, whose team has a bye and resumes play Oct. 2 against the New York Jets. "We've lived it. He's seen it, so those are the kind of expectations we'll have going into this. Whatever rust exists needs to be gone."

Following the loss to the Dolphins, the Ravens won five of their next six games to win the AFC North title.

"We had a rough day, but I think after that we got on track," said Wright, who missed the entire 2004 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. "I'll take that game (Tennessee) as a learning game and try to come back next game and do even better."

Now, they're banking on a similar resurgence for an offense that ranks last in the NFL in rushing offense (45.5 yards per contest), hasn't produced a yard or negative yardage on half of its snaps and averages just 5.97 yards per pass attempt. The only team the Ravens (17 points) have outscored is the Houston Texans (14 points), who fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer after two games.

"The film never lies, so obviously we can look at the film," Wright said. "We'll try to enhance our ability to get things corrected."

For Wright, a confident leader whose style appears to be embraced by the locker room, Boller's injury represents an opportunity.

It's essentially an audition for the job, because Boller is projected to be out until mid to late October. How the offense performs with Wright will be a major factor in determining whether to reinsert Boller once he's recovered from a hyperextended right big toe.

"I'm just trying to assert myself as a leader, to be a little more demanding," Wright said. "I'm going to show these guys that I'm going to do my part, and I'm expecting that we're going to work together as a team and come out and fight."

NOTES: Veteran kicker Matt Stover won't be fined by the NFL for his tackle of Titans receiver Courtney Roby. Titans coach Jeff Fisher, a co-chair of the competition committee that outlawed the horse-collar tackle, had been pushing for a fine. …

Center Mike Flynn missed practice for personal medical reasons, according to Billick.

"It was a personal situation," Billick said. "He had some tests he had to do." …

Billick reiterated that the Ravens don't plan significant schematic changes as a reactionary move to the poor start. …

"We're not going to come out running the wishbone," said Billick, who added that the team emerged unscathed from two fully-padded workouts. "I don't that that is a wise thing to do. It would be a heckuva surprise, kind of a dramatic change. I don't know that it would be fruitful." …

Billick wants his players to be careful during their weekend off.

"They are in a predatory environment," Billick said. "That doesn't relieve them of their obligation. There are people who know who you are and will approach you with ill will in their mind. Our players, unfortunately, need to be careful they don't put themselves in that situation."

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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