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Who Starts?


While head coach John Harbaugh may have an idea about which quarterback will start Thursday against the New England Patriots, he's not letting anyone else know.

Following Monday's morning practice, Harbaugh was coy when discussing the separation of his signal-callers.

"We'll let you know," Harbaugh told the media when asked about a timetable for his decision.

It also seems that Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron are even keeping the news from their players.

Kyle Boller, Troy Smith and Joe Flacco all remained noncommittal is divulging any information regarding the heavily-scrutinized position. Instead, all three young prospects are preparing as if their name will be the one called.

"I wish I could tell you, but I have no idea," said Boller, who has the most experience of the trio with 42 career starts. "I just come out here every day to practice – never knowing who's going to be the one, the two or the three – and get ready to try to have a great practice."

The Ravens have done a solid job of keeping the quarterbacks guessing, as each player has generally received equal reps with each team.

Still, the desire for that No. 1 spot was evident after Monday's second session. All three gunslingers remained on the field after the final huddle to work on timing and accuracy with a group of receivers for nearly 30 minutes.

Kickoff is nearing, and Boller, Smith and Flacco can sense the impending verdict, as well.

"It's really important anytime you can get out there and run the plays, regardless of who's out there," Boller explained. "There will be times in the preseason I'm in there with all these guys, so it's just a matter of being able to go out there and execute.

"Being that we do get limited reps because there are three of us and we're splitting it up evenly, you've got to take advantage after practice and during practice of getting those extra reps."

All of Baltimore's quarterbacks have their positives and negatives.

Smith, entering his second season after the Ravens took him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, possesses leadership and athleticism that most coaches crave under center. Flacco, this year's 18th-overall selection, has prototype size and a cannon for a right arm.

And even though Boller's experience advantage is somewhat leveled considering that everyone is learning Cameron's newly-installed system together, there is no substitute for seeing real in-game action in the big leagues.

"I'm anxious. I think most people would be," Flacco said. "It's the first time you get a chance to step on the field at an NFL level. That's a pretty big step and it's a pretty big accomplishment. I'm anxious to get it going and just see what it's like.

"My strategy is to go out there and play football the way I know how to and try to become as comfortable as possible with my teammates and with the offense."

Just who has the football when the Ravens call their first play of the preseason may not mean as much as people would think, however.

Harbaugh has previously noted that he will continue to evaluate the quarterbacks throughout August before he settles on a final depth chart for the position.

Whether they're playing in the first, second, third or fourth quarter, each snap will be crucial in determining the starter for the regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 7.

At this point, every Raven passer is simply looking for a team victory, not necessarily a selfish one.

"There's a lot still to come out of this," said Smith. "I know that we're pretty much going to get about the same amount of playing time. The cards will fall whichever way they do, and hopefully our preparation will get us a win."

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