Boller's season is over

OWINGS MILLS -- Kyle Boller's star-crossed career took another hit Wednesday as the Baltimore Ravens' former starting quarterback was placed on injured reserve with a serious shoulder injury, ending his season and probably his tenure in Baltimore as he enters the final year of his contract.

Meanwhile, journeyman quarterback Todd Bouman officially joined the team as the backup to rookie starter Joe Flacco after signing a one-year, $830,000 contract.

Boller has been out since taking a devastating hit in the Ravens' second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, and he may eventually need to undergo surgery. He wasn't available to comment.

"He has either got one of two injuries, either the torn labrum, or he's got, I don't know the medical term, but there's a connection of the bicep and the shoulder," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "The torn labrum has not responded to medication, and the other injury is a season-ender. He's done."

Drafted in the first round in 2003 out of Cal after a costly trade with the New England Patriots, Boller arrived in Baltimore with significant hype after being endorsed by former Ravens coach Brian Billick.

After starting immediately and struggling as a rookie, Boller never developed the requisite consistency and mechanics and was generally regarded as erratic in NFL circles.

He earned respect from teammates for his physical toughness and for being accountable about his miscues.

"I've always said Kyle is my guy and I like him," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "Regardless of what everybody else says, I think the guy can play football. To see him on IR now, and the hopes he had for playing this year, it's sad to see.

"I have the utmost respect for Kyle as a player and a person. I've seem what he's gone through since I've been here. I feel for him because he's worked so hard."

In 42 career starts, Boller, 27, completed 60 percent of his throws for a franchise-record 7,846 yards, passing for 45 touchdowns and 44 interceptions. He lost 19 fumbles.

He often drew derisive remarks from fans, who once cheered when he got hurt.

"It's unfortunate it had to happen this early in the season," tight end Todd Heap said. "He never got a chance to really get out and get on the field and do what he can do. That's football.

"Everybody goes through this. He's going to have to battle back from this one, get into the rehab and get healthy."

With Boller and Troy Smith, who's still out with a tonsil infection, sidelined, Flacco has emerged as an unexpected starter for the Ravens' season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The first-round draft pick from Delaware has improved a lot since going 0 for 3 with a lost fumble in his preseason debut against the New England Patriots.

"I'm a lot more prepared now than I was then," Flacco said. "I've had a lot more experience and worked with the guys a lot more. We can't wait to get out there Sunday and show what our offense is all about."

Since Boller is definitely out and Smith could be out for a few weeks after losing 20 to 30 pounds as he remains on antibiotics, Harbaugh acknowledged that the Ravens may need to eventually sign one more quarterback or promote Casey Bramlet from the practice squad. He joked about having wide receiver Mark Clayton in place as an emergency quarterback.

By signing Bouman, 36, after he tried out Monday along with Chris Simms and Joey Harrington, the Ravens at least gained some experience under center.

"We thought he was the best fit for us," Harbaugh said. "He's been in the offense before. He had a very good workout. The other guys had good workouts as well, but we thought that he was the best fit for us at this time."

In the league since 1997 and recently cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bouman backed up Daunte Culpepper with the Minnesota Vikings, Brett Favre with the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Brooks with the New Orleans Saints.

Bouman said he signed with the Ravens early Tuesday afternoon and spent the entire day at team headquarters getting acclimated to the playbook.

"I've been through this before, I've been in this situation for a lot of years," Bouman said. "You just accept your role whatever it might be, whatever they ask me to do.

"You're one play away and have to prepare like you're going to be the starter. You've got to be ready. If you're not, then you're going to look foolish."

Entering his 12th season, Bouman has completed 56.1 percent of his throws for 1,683 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His best game ever was in 2001 with the Vikings when he was named the NFL Player of the Week when he passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

Part of his job with the Ravens will be mentoring Flacco, 23, who's 13 years younger than him.

"Anything he asks, you try to give him some pointers regardless of what it might be," Bouman said. "Whatever he asks or whatever I think can help with him, I'll just help him along."

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

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