Ending one of the few position battles this preseason, the Ravens selected rookie Troy Smith as the No. 3 quarterback and released Drew Olson yesterday.
The move was somewhat surprising as Olson had outplayed Smith. But Smith was the team's fifth-round pick in April's NFL draft and is expected to be groomed as a possible successor to starting quarterback Steve McNair.
"Decisions have to be made," coach Brian Billick said after practice at the team's training facility in Owings Mills. "Drew was with us for his first year. A good young man. I think he has a future, but we had to make a decision."
Smith said he learned about the decision when he called Olson yesterday morning to find out when players had to report to the team's complex.
"I just gave him a call to see what time we came in and he told me that they had released him, and it was a shock to me," Smith said. "The guys that you slap five with, you might not even be here the next day. You never know. So you've got treat it that way."
Olson, who spent his rookie season on the Ravens' practice squad last year, has completed eight of 13 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown with a quarterback rating of 107.9 this preseason. Smith has completed seven of 19 passes for 94 yards and a rating of 53.4.
Smith said his development is still budding.
"I feel like I still need to get better," he said. "I'm getting better day in and day out. I'm going to continue my growth as a quarterback."
Smith is not guaranteed a spot on the team's 53-man roster, Billick said. Last season, the Ravens had two quarterbacks on the roster, McNair and backup Kyle Boller.
To get down to 75 players, the Ravens also waived punter Brendan Carney, running back Greg Pruitt Jr., safety Bobby Blackshire, cornerback Terrell Maze and long snapper Nick Leeson.
The team placed offensive tackle Steve Edwards (torn meniscus) on injured reserve. Linebackers Dan Cody (knee surgery) and Mike Smith (shoulder surgery) will begin the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list and will miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season.
Free safety Ed Reed (thigh bruise) missed practice yesterday, and Billick was noncommittal about whether the three-time Pro Bowl selection would play against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night. "We'll have to see," Billick said.
Wide receiver Mark Clayton (sprained ankle), linebacker Antwan Barnes (swollen ankle) and running back P.J. Daniels (tweaked hamstring) also did not practice.
Tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained ankle) and rookie linebacker Prescott Burgess (concussion and bruised shoulder) both said they plan to play. Wilcox has not played since spraining his left ankle during practice Aug. 8.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm out there," Wilcox said. "I'm ready to go."
Cornerback Samari Rolle, who is expected to be out until the season opener at Cincinnati on Sept. 10, ran sprints on his own in the end zone during practice.
Defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison did not play against the Washington Redskins on Saturday night because his newborn son had to be taken to the hospital Friday because of excessive levels of bilirubin in his body.
Bilirubin, which is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells, is usually passed through the liver and excreted as bile through the intestines. High levels of bilirubin can cause deafness, cerebral palsy or brain damage.
"I showed up and everything, and Coach [Billick] was like, 'Your family comes first,'" Ellison said, adding that doctors are using phototherapy, a type of treatment using light, to treat his son. "He's a lot better than he was, but we've still got a little bit to go before he gets out of the hospital."
Billick declined to say how long the starters would play Friday but said the lack of playing time in the weather-shortened loss to the Redskins affected the coaches' ability to evaluate the other players. "That hurt because it took [away] substantial snaps," he said. "[Rookie guard] Ben Grubbs got five snaps, and he was set to go the whole second half. But it is what it is. So we've got to find a way to make it up, and we will do it this week." ... Linebacker Bart Scott said he's looking forward to seeing former Raven and current Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli, who left the Ravens for a six-year, $18 million contract in the offseason. "He's oozing with machismo right now," Scott said of Mughelli.