Smith mending, Boller's season in jeopardy

OWINGS MILLS -- Troy Smith didn't practice again due to an energy-sapping issue involving his tonsils, and the former Heisman Trophy quarterback is expected to be a game-time decision for Thursday night's preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons.

Behind the scenes, there have been indications that Smith plans to play as his health is improving with the use of antibiotics even though there's still concern about whether he will be well enough to run the offense and call the plays because of a weakened voice.

Rookie first-round pick Joe Flacco took every snap in practice for the second consecutive day, boosting the chances that he may have to play the entire game as the lone healthy quarterback if Smith doesn't recover in time.

"We'll know before the game, but it could go up to the game," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said regarding Smith's potential starting availability. "It just depends on how fast he gets his strength back. You would love to be able to predict it and say, 'Hey, we know what's going to happen,' but there's just no way to know. We want him to play and he wants to play."

Meanwhile, there's a growing fear within the organization that veteran Kyle Boller might be out for the season with a fairly serious injury to his throwing shoulder.

Boller underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam, and the initial results weren't favorable. Team officials are awaiting results of a second medical opinion regarding an injury that stems from a brutal hit the former starter absorbed against the Minnesota Vikings.

It's unclear if Boller will need to undergo surgery at this point.

Boller was unable to throw Tuesday and struggles to raise his arm over his head. While jogging onto the field in sweatpants and a baseball cap, Boller never moved his right arm and crossed his left arm across his body to scratch his right ear.

"He's got MRIs that are being looked at," Harbaugh said.

Smith attended meetings Tuesday morning, but Harbaugh said he didn't feel well enough to remain at the training complex for the entire day. He indicated that Smith is dealing with dehydration after not being able to keep fluids down in the days leading up to and after a 24-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams that he was sidelined for.

"Troy is getting better, but he's just so drained and dehydrated," Harbaugh said. "He hasn't been able to eat for four days or something like that. He was in the meetings this morning, but he just didn't have the energy to go through the rest of the day."

Added Flacco: "This was the first time I've seen him and he looked a little bit better."

The Ravens aren't inclined to add another quarterback prior to the final preseason season game. However, Harbaugh didn't rule out the possibility of signing one heading into the regular season.

The Ravens haven't immediately begun contacting quarterbacks, but may do so within the next few days.

Casey Bramlet, a quarterback with connections to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, was cut by the San Diego Chargers on Tuesday. His agent plans to make a call to the Ravens this week to gauge their interest in him. Bramlet spent last season on the Miami Dolphins' practice squad before being activated in December for a 1-15 squad coached by Cameron.

Other potential links that have already been rumored are Miami Dolphins quarterback John Beck, a former Cameron second-round draft pick who's expected to be cut, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill, a former University of Maryland player, via a possible trade.

At this point, though, there's no action on acquiring a new quarterback.

"We will have to see where Troy and Kyle are," Harbaugh said. "We need three quarterbacks obviously."

With Smith still a question mark, Flacco is gearing up for a possible second preseason start after completing 18 of 37 passes for 152 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 24-10 loss to the Rams.

"I've prepared myself," Flacco said. "If that's the case, then I get another chance to work with all the guys and we'll see what happens. I just want to get better and develop more chemistry with the receivers."

Flacco's poise has been encouraging to his teammates and the coaching staff, especially after he completed 14 of 24 passes for 129 yards in the second half with a 15-yard touchdown pass following a rough start.

The big rookie from Delaware still has a lot of room for improvement, though.

"If you want specifics about where he can build, he can build on everything," Harbaugh said. "I think some specific things would be to be more accurate and to get the ball out quickly. Across the board, just continue to improve."

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


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