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Boller Adjusts to Life As NFL Quarterback

August 5, 2003

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) _ Kyle Boller nearly didn’t make it through his first NFL practice in full pads.

Boller dropped into the pocket Monday when Terrell Suggs, the Baltimore Ravens’ other first-round pick, rolled the quarterback’s legs out from under him.

Both players quickly popped back up; no harm done.

``It brought back old memories,″ said Boller, who played against Suggs in college. ``He’s a great player. It’s awesome to have such a good defense coming at you. You get the best (work) that way.″

Boller ended a three-day holdout last week, but circumstances delayed his first full-scale workout until Monday morning, when he formally entered the competition to determine the Ravens’ starting quarterback for the Sept. 7 opener in Pittsburgh.

Boller looked sharp, thanks heavily to the experience he gained during minicamp.

``You can tell he’s got a grasp of the offense,″ offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said. ``When he called a play, you could see he knew what everyone was supposed to do.″

Among the highlights:

_ A long pass threaded between two defenders that Javin Hunter dropped in the end zone.

_ Crisp sideline passes to Hunter and Randy Hymes that moved the chains during a 2-minute drill.

_ A 75-yard drive that resulted in a field goal near the end of practice.

There was an interception, too. Cornerback Gary Baxter seized the ball near the sideline and took it the distance, but the blame rested on the shoulder of tight end Terry Jones.

``He ran the wrong route,″ Boller said. ``But a pick’s a pick.″

Still, Boller couldn’t stop smiling in the wake of his first real taste of the NFL.

``It was awesome to be out there with the guys and get the live bullets coming at you,″ he said.

That includes Suggs, who used to chase Boller for real when he was with Arizona State and Boller played at California.

This time, Boller got off easy.

``I thought I broke my back and my left side,″ the quarterback said, flashing a toothy smile. ``Nah, I was fine. It feels good sometimes to get stuff like that, especially when you’re not supposed to get hit. It gets you going.″

Boller kept going after practice, throwing sideline passes to veteran receiver Frank Sanders and working with the coaches on his technique in the pocket. The rookie is a week behind Chris Redman in the competition to be No. 1, but can’t afford to overdo it.

At least that’s what quarterbacks coach David Shaw told him.

``He said, `Just take things slow and don’t try to do everything in one day. You go do things at your pace,‴ Boller said. ``I think that’s a good philosophy because if you try to do too much, you get yourself in trouble. I did that a couple of times. You have to relax. I’m not going to make up all the practices this whole week.″

Boller did, however, get off to a good start.

``He seemed very poised,″ Ravens coach Brian Billick said. ``He seemed to understand what was going on.″

Later in the morning session, Hunter ruptured his right Achilles tendon, an injury that will force him to miss the entire season.

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