McNair placed on injured reserve

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair's disappointing season is officially over as he will undergo surgery today to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. The four-time Pro Bowl passer was placed on injured reserve Tuesday afternoon as Baltimore promoted kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd from the practice squad.

McNair's unavailability for the remainder of the season means that Kyle Boller will stay under center for the final five games, including Monday night's game against the New England Patriots.

With Boller and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, who's operating as the backup, the only quarterbacks on the active roster, Baltimore will probably sign another one this week. What remains unclear is whether this development marks the end of the former NFL Co-Most Valuable Player's tenure with last year's AFC North champions.

McNair, 34, is under contract and scheduled to make a $4 million base salary next season. However, the Ravens extended Boller's contract through the 2008 season earlier this year and could cut McNair during the offseason.

When asked last month whether McNair would ever play another game for the Ravens, Ravens coach Brian Billick was noncommittal.

"That's a question that I really can't answer," Billick said. "Only time will tell that. My admiration for Steve McNair -- the champion he's been, the grit, the toughness, the professionalism -- is something that I will continue to value. I don't know that anybody can answer that question right now."

McNair partially dislocated his left, non-throwing shoulder and damaged his rotator cuff in a 21-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 11. He fumbled twice and was intercepted once, finishing the season with 11 turnovers on four interceptions and seven fumbles in six starts.

Hampered by groin, back and shoulder injuries, McNair finished the season with a subpar 73.9 quarterback rating.

Although the Ravens granted him a three-week recuperation period following another ineffective period where his back and groin affected his mobility and arm strength, his play didn't improve in two subsequent starts.

This shoulder procedure will mark the seventh surgery McNair has undergone since 1997, including his right knee, lower back, left big toe, right shoulder, left ankle and sternum.

McNair has won just two of his past seven starts, including a 15-6 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts where he threw two crucial interceptions.

The Baltimore fans constantly booed McNair prior to him being shelved three games ago after he hurt his shoulder.

"I understand the fans' anxieties, but this man has been an incredible athlete and an incredible force in the NFL," Billick said. "He's been a class act. I hope people keep that in mind in the way that they deal with him."

HEALTHY SECONDARY: Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister returned to the lineup after missing four of the past five games with a strained knee.

This marks the first time since a Sept. 16 win over the New York Jets that the entire starting secondary had been on the field at the same time with Baltimore starting McAlister, Samari Rolle, Ed Reed and Dawan Landry.

INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap missed his sixth game in the past eight weeks due to a strained hamstring. Quinn Sypniewski started

in Heap's place. Tight end Daniel Wilcox saw his first action since spraining his left big toe in a Sept. 30 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens also deactivated wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high-ankle sprain), safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (illness), linebacker Edgar Jones, defensive tackle Zarnell Fitch, running back Mike Anderson and Lloyd.

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson started despite a broken thumb on his right hand.

Meanwhile, the Patriots deactivated wide receivers Troy Brown and Chad Jackson, defensive backs Eugene Wilson and Eddie Jackson, linebacker Chad Brown, offensive tackle Wesley Britt, offensive guard Billy Yates and quarterback Matt Gutierrez.

TRADE REVISITED: The Ravens' decision four years ago to draft Boller was paved by a trade with the Patriots.

Baltimore swapped its 2004 first-round draft pick and 2003 second-round pick to New England in exchange for the 19th overall selection where they tabbed Boller.

New England wound up drafting nose guard Vince Wilfork with the first-round pick and selected another eventual defensive starter in safety Eugene Wilson with the second-round pick. Boller has had an erratic career so far in Baltimore.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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