Ravens' quarterback watch

WESTMINSTER -- Our latest deluxe look at the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback competition between Joe Flacco, Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.

Troy Smith

Positives: Delivered a terrific deep touchdown pass to Justin Harper, hitting Darnerien McCants for another score. Threw the ball with authority on slants and intermediate crossing patterns.

Negatives: Wild occasionally, intercepted by linebacker Robert McCune and by cornerback David Pittman when he tried to force the football into traffic. Seems worried about the pass rush, and his feet are starting to dance.

Stock: Took a lot of first-string reps again, so point this arrow to the sky.

Kyle Boller

Positives: The most consistent overall of the three with a series of sharp throws. Has displayed the best timing and chemistry throwing to running backs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.

Negatives: Rarely challenges the defense, and appears content with checking down for the simplest option in most cases. Will need to push the envelope more to win this job.

Stock: Mechanically, could still stand for some improvement. Holding steady at this point.

Joe Flacco

Positives: Had a 20-yard scramble away from pressure, demonstrating surprising mobility. Beginning to recognize defensive schemes and reacting accordingly.

Negatives: Still putting far too much heat on short passes and had several overthrown incompletions. It's a partial byproduct of the backup linemen and receivers he's working with.

Stock: Hasn't been moving in either direction. Could be watching Smith on Sept. 7 against Cincinnati.

Head Coach John Harbaugh

On whether players are starting to feel the tempo of practice: "They started feeling it after the first practice; you start feeling it. I think we got through the first three days, which are the most high-rep days. [We] pushed through them really well, had good practices. In the fourth practice, the fourth day in the morning, we tacked another tough one on there. The idea is to get their legs right away. Let's get ‘em, let's break them down and start building them back up now."

On the possibility of bringing in another offensive tackle: "Ozzie [Newsome] and George [Kokinis] have been working on that for a couple of days, and they've got some good ideas on that."

On the impact of injuries given the new 80-player roster limit: "I think you're going to see all around the league that coaches have had to adjust to the limited roster number. All these things you're seeing are things that happen in every training camp, for the most part, and you've got a few more bodies in there so it doesn't affect practice quite as much. We've had to adjust practice. Within our practice, we've adjusted the number of reps, where the reps go, who takes the reps, along with the fact that we're doing the 30-plus [age] club. We have a number of guys that are in the 30-plus group, so that knocks a few more numbers out. But all you do is, you take the reps and you adjust the reps to the number of players you have."

On when the coaches begin evaluating players' progress: "We do it every day. We evaluate guys every single day. It's a good question and a good point. It's not like, ‘Oh, we're going to wait until the first preseason game to start deciding who fits best or who's ahead.' I think the preseason games are the major evaluating points, but every rep is an evaluation opportunity."

On why S Ed Reed has not practiced during camp so far: "His situation has to do with a shoulder issue that he's working on right now. It's a strengthening issue, and that takes a little bit of time."

On dealing with the media as the head coach: "You get the same questions on a daily basis. Actually, it's been something I like doing. We did it in Philly, not on a daily basis, obviously. But, from a special teams perspective, [Eagles head coach] Andy [Reid] was really good about getting the coordinators in front of the media, all three coordinators. That was a great experience to do that, and it's something we want to do here, as you saw the last two days. Getting [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] and [defensive coordinator] Rex [Ryan] in front of the media is great for them, but it's even better for you guys, I think."

On the special teams leadership of LBs Gary Stills and Brendon Ayanbadejo: "Yeah, those guys have been stellar, just outstanding. They're both maybe the two best special teams players in the game right now, and we've got them both here not only to play, but to help train our young guys."

On whether Stills and Ayanbadejo are benefiting from extra reps at linebacker: "Those guys are football players. They love to play football. Brendon, he's the happiest guy in the world because one of his packages went in yesterday, and he got a pick the very first day that the package was in. That gets those guys juiced up."

On his timeframe for bringing in another tackle: "Yes, soon. As soon as we can. We're working on it right now, so it's going to happen quickly. To explain a little bit, it would already be done except there's a physical issue. They've got to take their physicals, and they've got to be cleared to play."

On what input the coaches have when looking for new players to bring in: "The coaches do have a lot of input. Ozzie Newsome and George Kokinis have been great about coming to us. Especially a new staff that's just been assembled, guys have coached guys in the very recent past. So they know if a guy can play or not. A lot of times, if you're looking just on tape, you really don't know the ins and outs of a guy, so that's been a big part of what we've done."

On how players are pushing through the heat and fatigue: "The important thing, what we're all about as a program – what's important now? We talked to the guys about that. It's not a slogan. It's a mindset. I think we're training a mindset right now, and the mindset is this: You take care of business today. This morning's practice was important, and our guys did a great job of taking care of it. This afternoon's practice is next. Next meeting is next. It's one play at a time. It's one series at a time. It's one quarter at a time. It's one game a time."

On whether veterans missing practice with injury hurt their standing during evaluation: "Well, it's not like if you don't take a rep, it's a minus. It's not like we say, ‘Well, he didn't take the rep, so we knock off points,' or anything like that. You evaluate the reps that they're involved in."

On T Mike Kracalik: "Mike has come a long way. From watching on tape last year through the spring, I think [offensive line coaches] Andy Moeller and John Matsko have just done a fantastic job with him, and he's worked really hard. He's a competitive tackle right now."

On the wide receiver position: "Demetrius [Williams] not being in the mix is obviously the wild card. How many receivers we keep is going to be a wild card. We've told those guys, ‘Don't count numbers. Just play. Play yourself in or play yourself out.' Really, that's all you can say."

On whether special teams affect the outcome of position battles: "Sure, special teams plays a big factor here at all positions."


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