Ravens rolling the dice with two QBs

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens are imitating a growing trend in the NFL, exercising a calculated gamble where only two quarterbacks are kept on the active roster. Since the Ravens cut Brian St. Pierre, who was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad following starter Ben Roethlisberger's appendectomy, all they have left is starter Steve McNair and backup Kyle Boller.

Undrafted rookie free agent Drew Olson didn't make the final roster cutdown, but is on the practice squad. Several teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers, have also opted to save a roster spot by carrying just two quarterbacks. If anything happens to McNair and Boller, -- two quarterbacks with a significant history of injuries -- wide receiver Mark Clayton will operate as the Ravens' emergency quarterback. "Obviously, it's not what you hope to get to, but a number of teams are beginning to do this type of thing," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We had a tough time putting some pretty good athletes out on the street, but, knock on wood, I've never gotten by injury to that third quarterback." Billick said the Ravens have no current plans to explore signing another quarterback. There isn't much quality depth available on the market. Clayton, though, hasn't played quarterback since his high school days in Arlington, Texas. "If they need me, I can do it," Clayton said. "The option won't work for us because the defense is too fast to run that. I can't imagine them needing me, but I'll be ready if the situation presents itself." MAKING THE CUT: Rookie running backs P. J. Daniels and Cory Ross bucked the odds by making the final roster cut on a team that features veteran runners Jamal Lewis, Mike Anderson and Musa Smith. While Daniels got off to a slow start with two fumbles again the New York Giants, the fourth-round draft pick demonstrated gradual improvement and finished the preseason with 81 yards on 31 carries. "This is just the beginning to the end," Daniels said. "Now that I'm on the team, I've got to have another goal and I need to accelerate what I'm doing on the look squad. "When I made it, I didn't really get to celebrate. I just felt like it was something that was supposed to happen and I went on from there." Ross' reaction wasn't nearly as understated. The 5-foot-6, 201-pound undrafted free agent from Nebraska prayed that he wouldn't get a telephone call from the personnel department delivering bad news. He didn't fully relax until he was invited to a team meeting where Billick confirmed he was a member of the 53-man roster. "You look around, you find out that you made it and it's exciting," Ross said. "I definitely called my mom and dad and told them the good news. At Nebraska, I started out as the eighth running back, so I know how to go from the bottom to the top. "I learned how to fight and I haven't lost that. I'm going to keep on fighting." Ross rushed for 62 yards on 18 carries. Plus, he averaged 9.4 yards on punt returns and 21.8 yards on kickoff returns, but didn't topple incumbent return specialist B.J. Sams. "I can't wait to get on that field, and that's when the feeling is really going to be there," Ross said. "I still have more goals to hit, but, right now, I'm just glad I made the team." TRAINING ROOM: All of the players who were held out of or injured during the team's preseason finale against the Washington Redskins returned to practice Sunday. That includes safety Gerome Sapp (intestinal infection), fullback Justin Green (knee), defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (hip), cornerback Ronnie Prude (ankle), cornerback Chris McAlister (leg), wide receiver Derrick Mason (knee), wide receiver Clarence Moore (knee) and linebacker Mike Smith (knee). "When you're not out there, you try to get those mental reps, but it's not the same," said Sapp, who practiced Sunday for the first time in over a week.. "As an athlete, you need that physical aspect." Green underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam over the weekend that confirmed there was no damage to his knee. "I just banged it up," he said. QUICK HITS: Rookie defensive tackle Nick Leaders (Iowa State) was added to the practice squad. … When asked by a reporter who the third-string quarterback was, Billick quipped: "You, so you'd better be ready if things get dicey." Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times.

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