Third Quarterback Enters Ravens' Starter Competition


For the past two weeks, there's been a question of whether Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen would be the Ravens' starting quarterback.

This week, a third name enters the mix.

Ryan Mallett will have two weeks of preparation under his belt by the time Sunday's matchup against the Steelers rolls around. While it was nearly impossible for him to be ready to face the Chiefs on Sunday given such little preparation, Mallett could be in play this week.

So who will it be: Mallett, Schaub or Clausen?

"We'll see," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"I just don't want to put any parameters on [the quarterback situation] right now. It's a unique situation right now that we're in, obviously. It's different than normal. We'll see how it plays out. [We are] probably not going to say anything. We'll see who the guy is."

Harbaugh isn't just being coy. He said he legitimately doesn't know right now who the quarterback will be on Sunday. There are a few factors in play.

First, there's Mallett's comfort level within the offense. Since signing a week ago, Mallett has been at the Under Armour Performance Center "practically 24-7 learning the offense," Harbaugh said.

The Ravens didn't want to put Mallett on the field before he had a strong grasp of Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's system. But with two weeks under his belt, it may be good enough to give him a shot and be able to expect good results.

Harbaugh has said he would like to get Mallett on the field before the regular season ends and there's only two weeks left.

"[Mallett's] done a good job," Harbaugh said. "Obviously the clock's ticking, and if we want to see him this year we're going to have to put him out there pretty quick. But that's a matter of whether we're ready to play. We also want to [give] due justice to our chances of winning the game, too."

Another factor is Schaub's health. He was too banged up from the Week 13 game in Miami to take the field in Week 14 against Seattle, and his healthy status was between 60 and 75 percent by Sunday's game against the Chiefs, Harbaugh estimated.

With another week to recover, Schaub could be healthy enough to face Pittsburgh.      

Then there's Clausen's effectiveness, who has mostly performed well during his two starts outside of a rough fourth quarter in Sunday's 34-14 loss to Kansas City.

Clausen has completed 49 of 85 passes (57.6 percent) for 555 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Clausen was turnover free over his first seven quarters before throwing a pick-six (when wide receiver Daniel Brown fell down) and another pick on a wayward floated pass late in the loss to the Chiefs.

Between Schaub and Clausen, the Ravens have now surrendered three pick-sixes over their last four games.

For the second straight week, Harbaugh gave Clausen kudos after the game.

"I thought Jimmy played really well. Give him credit," Harbaugh said. "The interception for the touchdown, the receiver fell down. He threw it in the right spot. The other one, he probably wants back. But, he made a bunch of plays with his feet, with his arm. He operated really well with the offense. I thought he did a good job."

Overall, the Ravens are simply trying to do their best with all the injuries they have and whoever is under center, but it's hardly an ideal situation. The offense is now without six opening-day starters: quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., tight end Crockett Gillmore, left tackle Eugene Monroe and center Jeremy Zuttah.

"To think that we're going to be some kind of well-oiled machine in the passing game with the kind of turnover we've had is just not realistic," Harbaugh said. "But we can still make plays. We can still chase that every single day in practice. So, we've just got to keep working on it."

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