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Opinion: With Boller out, Ravens lose their best QB

I know that many Ravens fans will not agree but it is my belief that when Kyle Boller was placed on injured reserve today with a shoulder injury that the Ravens lost their best current quarterback and probably any chance -- albeit a mighty slim one -- to contend for the playoffs.

Before the Joe Flacco or Troy Smith supporters start firing away, let me say that I have substantial regard for the rookie from Delaware. His intelligence, arm strength and quiet determination may make him an outstanding NFL quarterback. There is no rush to that judgment here one way or the other.  And Troy Smith deserves a reasonable chance to prove himself.

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However, before Boller got hurt, he was possessed of enormous arm strength, a great deal of courage and and the experience of 42 NFL starts during which he occasionally flashed brilliant and often operated competently. And, yes, I know he also occasionally played as if he were wearing rolling skates. But on a depth chart that originally included Boller, Troy Smith and Flacco, if you took all the components of talent, experience and the sheer ability to throw the football through a small defensive window, Boller was clearly the best guy right now.

That's all gone. And for Boller and the Ravens, it's probably gone for good. He is in the last year of a contract extension and one would think that in seven months or so when free agency rolls around, assuming his injury situation is resolved favorably, Boller will look fairly attractive to some other NFL franchise on the hunt for a quarterback.  After all, if Todd Bouman can land on an NFL roster (he's been signed by the Ravens), one would think Boller will be a hot item on the open market.

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So in whatever quarterback controversy that awaits the Ravens for 2008, this much is certain -- for the first time in several years, Kyle Boller will not be part of the debate.

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