Billick: Boller will remain under center

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens have endured enough change at the quarterback position in Brian Billick's opinion as the coach reiterated Monday that Kyle Boller will be under center for the remainder of the season despite some public clamoring for rookie Troy Smith.

Boller turned in one of his worst games of this season, throwing three interceptions and fumbling once in a 44-20 loss Sunday night to the Indianapolis Colts. He passed for just 132 yards with a 61.2 quarterback efficiency rating.

Smith, a former Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, scrambled for his first career NFL touchdown on a six-yard run in the final minute of the game.

"Kyle is our starting quarterback," Billick said. "It was nice to get Troy in a little bit and get his feet wet. If that presents itself going forward, that would probably be a good thing. But our best chance to win going forward is Kyle Boller remaining our starter."

Boller completed 19 of 25 passes and was sacked four times. He was intercepted twice by Gary Brackett, failing to look off the middle linebacker with his eyes.

Afterward, Brackett said it wasn't hard to read Boller's intentions.

"They say, 'Don't miss the layups,'" he said.

Billick defended Boller's decision-making even though the mistakes appeared highly similar to the fundamental breakdowns that have plagued him throughout his career in Baltimore. The coach indicated that he believed that Boller was pressing given the nature of the game.

"I think the game got into a situation where everybody, to a certain degree, felt like, ‘I have to make a play. I have to make something happen,'" Billick said. "And when you do that as a quarterback, you better be careful, because you're going to put the ball in places you don't want to. We're a week away from Kyle playing very, very well on a Monday night, to where, like the entire team, he could have done some things better.

"So we're not going to overreact to it. Clearly, he'll look at the film and see and make those judgments that, ‘Did I read this out? Or, was I trying to make something happen here that wasn't there?'"

As for Smith, he completed three of five passes for 33 yards and appeared comfortable on the field and in the huddle.

It was a much better showing than his erratic preseason performances.

"Under circumstances to where we would have been winning, it would have been much better," said Smith, who didn't lobby for the starting job. "Moments like that are for your family. It helps your team a little bit, but we need to get a win. Kyle is a pretty popular guy. I definitely stepped into a situation being behind him, backing him up."

WILLING TO CHANGE?: Billick said he wouldn't hesitate to give up his play-calling duties after the season.

It's unclear what the Ravens will do, though, if offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel lands a college job, which he attempted to do by interviewing for the Georgia Tech job landed by Navy coach Paul Johnson.

If Neuheisel doesn't secure a job offer, then the Ravens could hand him the play-calling duties or look for someone else.

"I think I've made it abundantly clear that all those things that we normally do at the end of the season, by way of evaluation, will go on again, and we'll put ourselves in the best position going forward that we can," Billick said. "If that's something that we think can make a difference, and want to configure ourselves that way, absolutely.

"Especially at the end of a year like this, or not, like last year. Everything is on the table, and that's exactly what we'll do at the end of the year is evaluate everything and move forward."

PICKED ON: Cornerback David Pittman, a disappointing third-round draft pick, was pulled by defensive coordinator Rex Ryan after giving up his second touchdown pass.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning went after Pittman on four of his first six passes.

When asked if he was alarmed that Pittman was being selectively targeted, Billick replied: "We're going to have a couple more weeks to give him an opportunity to see if he can live up to the hope that we had for him."

One concern with Pittman, who has good size and speed, is his ability to forget a mistake and focus on the next play, a trait NFL cornerbacks must possess.

"That's what we'll have to see," Billick said. "That's where you try to help him learn what he's got to do in those situations. We've got three more weeks to give him an opportunity to see that growth so that we can know what we have, quantify what we have, going into next year's training camp."

QUICK HITS: Billick didn't offer any substantive updates on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) and cornerback Samari Rolle (shoulder) after both players underwent magnetic resonance imaging exams Monday other than saying that Ngata returned to the game after hurting his left knee was a good sign. ... Billick refused to rule out tight end Todd Heap for the season. He has missed seven of the past nine games with a strained hamstring. ... "I think he's going to give it a go early in the week," Billick said. "If he can push through pretty good on Wednesday, we'll have a better idea then." ... When Ngata went out the Ravens were forced to throw offensive guard Chris Chester into the fray at defensive tackle. He hadn't played defense since his high school days growing up in Southern California. "When you take a Chris Chester and throw him in on the goal line, you hope the body can swell up and get big and try to make a play," Billick said. "There's not going to be much strategy or tactic involved. It's, ‘Put a big body in there,' and he happened to be the big body that we had. We've practiced with Chris to give him a sense of it if we got to that point." ... Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was noncommittal on whether he plans to retire after the season. "I examine things later," he said. "You should always feel terrible after a loss. My old college coach used to say, 'When things are going good, they're not going that good and when they're going bad, they're not going that bad.' So you kind of have to wait even a day or two and examine it later. Right now, I can't really examine those things." ... Running back Willis McGahee fumbled and rushed for just 45 yards on 17 carries. "It's tough, man," he said. "You can't put yourself in predicaments like this. We did, and it's hard for us to get out of it."

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

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