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Who Else Under Center?


Now that Joe Flacco has been named the starter for Baltimore's regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens must find a backup.

Troy Smith is still recovering from infected tonsils. Kyle Boller is still nursing an injury to his throwing shoulder.

And, with unproven prospect Casey Bramlet sitting on the practice squad, the Ravens are hoping to add a veteran signal-caller heading into Week 1.

Days after the final mass cut of the preseason, Baltimore will likely have to do more slashing this week.

"We're carrying three quarterbacks now; we may have to carry a fourth," said head coach John Harbaugh. "It means we'll have to let somebody else go, temporarily or permanently. And that would be unfortunate."

Recently, the Ravens brought in three free-agent quarterbacks, and there has been much speculation in the media as to which one will be staying.

Chris Simms, a former starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who missed the majority of the past two seasons with a splenectomy, was the first name to get leaked. Simms started the first three contests of 2006, throwing one touchdown and seven interceptions, before he ruptured his spleen and was subsequently shelved.

Then, ESPN's Chris Mortenson cited a source Monday afternoon that said the Ravens had actually signed Joey Harrington, the third-overall selection in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. Harrington spent last year with the Atlanta Falcons, where he started 10 games.

That story was since amended with information suggesting Harrington was also speaking with other teams and had not inked with Baltimore.

Tuesday, ESPN’s John Clayton weighed in, claiming another source says the Ravens have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with 10-year veteran Todd Bouman, a career backup that has seen time with Minnesota, New Orleans, Green Bay and Jacksonville.

The Ravens have not offered any official word on which candidate will eventually wear purple and black yet, but one thing Harbaugh can basically assure is that neither Smith nor Boller will suit up against Cincinnati.

"I would say we're pretty close to ruling those guys out," the coach said Monday.

All three free agents saw action in three preseason games. Simms completed 19 of his 29 passes for 136 yards and an interception. Harrington went 9-of-15 for 98 yards and one pick. Bouman finished 20-of-33 for 275 yards and two touchdowns.

Whichever one of those candidates sticks around – and for how long – remains to be seen. The factors include how tests on Boller's shoulder turn out and how fast Smith can fully kick his viral infection.

The only certainty under center for Sunday is Flacco, even if the original plan was for the 18th-overall pick to sit and learn from the sidelines for at least part of the season.

While Harbaugh feels that "no one would believe" such a movie script for a first-time head coach, his confidence in the Ravens' rookie quarterback hasn't faltered.

"To me, it doesn't really matter," Harbaugh said. "What difference does it make? Joe's our guy, and we think he can win for us. He had a heck of a practice, and we're excited to go out there and play with him."

More Roster Moves

The Ravens placed practice squadder and seventh-round draft pick Justin Harper on Injured Reserve with a knee injury.

Defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker, who spent 2007 on the Ravens' practice squad, was signed again to Baltimore's developmental unit.

Harper, out of Virginia Tech, caught one pass for 18 yards in the preseason. Parker amassed nine tackles while seeing added playing time in place of injured defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (knee) and Kelly Gregg (knee).

Parker, 6-foot-4, 325 pounds, has also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns after joining the Browns as a rookie free agent out of Rutgers in 2005.

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