Boller confident he'll remain the starter

OWINGS MILLS -- Perhaps no player was more enthusiastic about receiving the news that Brian Billick will continue coaching the Baltimore Ravens next season than quarterback Kyle Boller. It's Billick who has steadfastly defended his hand-chosen quarterback despite often-erratic play that has only abated in the last two encouraging weeks.

"I'm excited," Boller said. "Coach Billick has been a big supporter of mine. I think it's great for the entire organization.

"Brian has been behind me through everything, and there are a lot of coaches who wouldn't do that. They would have given up on me and not given me a chance. For him to show that [loyalty] to me means everything."

Boller completed 70 percent of his passes for 542 yards, six touchdowns and one interception with a cumulative 123.8 quarterback rating in consecutive wins over Green Bay and Minnesota.

In his first six starts this season, Boller converted 57.7 percent of his throws and averaged 184.3 yards per game. He threw five touchdown passes and was intercepted nine times for a 63.0 quarterback rating.

His recent improvement hasn't earned him an endorsement as the starter for next season with Billick stating that the Ravens plan to augment the position with a veteran quarterback as either a backup or potential competition for the job.

"Personally, I believe I will be the starter," Boller said. "I think I'm a good quarterback and that I'll be able to compete with anybody they bring in here. Right now, I'm not concerned with it. I'm the starting quarterback for this team."

STRONG IMPRESSION: Several players stated appreciation that owner Steve Bisciotti personally informed them Wednesday morning of his decision to retain Billick for next season.

"That just shows the great respect he has for us, and it's respect back to him," linebacker Bart Scott said. "He does things that other owners don't do.

"That makes you feel important that he's man enough to come out and tell us how it is instead of hearing it on the news. We respect that he lets us be the first one to find out about our future."

Bisciotti met with players and coaches for roughly 15 minutes along with general manager Ozzie Newsome.

"Him making an announcement to us as players first shows that he really cares about the continuity, the feelings that we feel toward each other as a player and as the owner," offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "When you look at the NFL, you don't think about owners talking to players. I was impressed."

STAR TREATMENT: Defensive end Tony Weaver said he has no problems with the Ravens giving special treatment to star players.

Over the past two years, many so-called blue-collar players have griped privately about the disparity between them and the high-rent district occupied by standouts like injured middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

"I don't get upset about it," Weaver said. "There are certain players that are at an elite level and you have to respect what they receive. You can't treat everybody the same. You'll be treated fairly, but not everybody will be treated the same and that's just the way it is."

R. LEWIS UPDATE: Lewis, who underwent hamstring surgery in Miami earlier this month, attended a bowl game Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., along with his children.

Billick said last week that Lewis, who hasn't attended the past few games or been at the team's training complex since the surgery, wasn't traveling because doctors feared possible infection.

"It's been tough on him being detached like this," Billick said. "He's in rehab. That doesn't mean that the man is in a monastery and locked up behind a guard. He is down in Florida doing what he ought to be doing with regard to rehabbing and getting started for the offseason."

TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens expect return specialist B.J. Sams (knee) to be available Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, although he is listed as questionable.

Tight end Daniel Wilcox (ankle) is listed as doubtful along with linebacker Mike Smith (hamstring), but Billick indicated Wilcox won't play.

Center Mike Flynn (ankle), offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo (knee) and cornerback Chris McAlister (shoulder) are considered probable and practiced.

QUICK HITS: Weaver, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, said there will be no hard feelings whether he's back in Baltimore or playing elsewhere. … Linebacker Peter Boulware said he hasn't decided if he'll return or if he'll retire.

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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