Ravens sticking with Boller under center

OWINGS MILLS -- Kyle Boller will remain the Baltimore Ravens' starting quarterback despite a mild concussion and a promising outing by rookie backup Troy Smith, according to coach Brian Billick.

Even though Boller was knocked out of the game midway through the fourth quarter of a 22-16 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins and complained of blurred vision, team officials anticipate him recovering in time for Wednesday's practice and returning to the lineup Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Boller was still suffering a headache Monday, among other lingering effects.

And Billick avoided the potential headache of a quarterback controversy by quickly pronouncing that Boller will remain under center, barring an injury setback, for the final two games as Baltimore (4-10) tries to avoid ending the season on a franchise-record 10-game losing streak.

"We're going to continue to take the tack that we're going to try to win every week," Billick said. "Kyle played very well and deserves the opportunity to grow. In my opinion, Kyle gives us the best chance to win the game, although we're prepared to go with Troy if that presents itself."

Mired in an unprecedented eight-game losing streak, stuck in last place in an AFC North division they won going away a year ago and mathematically eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago, the Ravens apparently have no intentions of using the remainder of the season to evaluate Smith for the future.

In relief of Boller on Sunday at Dolphin Stadium, the Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State engineered a 59-yard drive that tied the game on a field goal in the final minute of regulation

Smith completed just 5 of 11 passes for 49 yards for 58.5 quarterback rating, but he didn't commit a turnover and his poise was sharp and his mobility appeared to spark a dormant offense. During his NFL debut the previous week against the Indianapolis Colts, the fifth-round draft pick scrambled for a six-yard touchdown.

"How would I evaluate it? I could have been better," Smith said. "There were some passes that I made that should have been completed. I'm my own worst critic so I've still got some things that I've got to improve on. Stepping into a situation like that, your comfort level has to increase.

"You have to be able to step up and rise to the challenge. There are 44 other guys out there in pads that are counting on you and looking at you. They're looking into your eyes and seeing what kind of player and what kind of man you're going to be, so I had to be comfortable."

Although Smith didn't deliver a vintage performance compared to how he set passing records with the Buckeyes, he did open some eyes with his teammates and a fan base that continues to clamor for him to receive more playing time. He was congratulated profusely by running back Willis McGahee in the locker room after the game despite the final outcome.

Smith avoided a safety by dashing away from pressure. Later, he passed for three first downs while running the no-huddle offense out of the shotgun formation during a crisp two-minute drill.

"He did a couple of things like you would expect from a rookie and, then obviously you saw, the kid is a pretty good football player," Billick said. "You saw some of the things, the athleticism, the strong arm, he's not one to panic, which is very good, and he did some excellent things."

Meanwhile, Boller went 10 for 19 for 159 yards with one touchdown and an interception caused by wide receiver Devard Darling's drop. That was prior to being violently bashed in the head by defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday.

"The issue was that his vision was a little blurred," Billick said. "They weren't comfortable with putting him back in."

If Boller's health doesn't cooperate, the Ravens don't appear to have any reservations about playing Smith for fear of setting back his development or hurting his healthy confidence level.

"He's a pretty confident young man, so no matter what happened, I think he would be very resilient," Billick said. "From that regard, I'm not overly concerned."

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

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