Boller still covets No. 1 job

The Baltimore Sun

A day after agreeing to a contract extension that will keep him through the 2008 season, Ravens backup quarterback Kyle Boller said he still has designs on being an NFL starter.

Boller compiled an 18-16 record as a starter, and incumbent Steve McNair is in only the second year of a five-year contract, but Boller said he wants to start again.

"That's my ultimate goal," he said yesterday after practice at the team's training facility in Owings Mills. "I would love to get back under center full time. I've learned so much from [McNair]. I don't know how much longer he is going to play. As long as I can keep learning from him and improving each day, hopefully I can put myself in that position to compete and have an opportunity to take it over some day."

Boller, who was reportedly approached by team officials Wednesday about remaining with the Ravens, acknowledged that the team's initial contact with former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich prompted the negotiations.

"It definitely came up a little bit because of Leftwich," Boller said. "I don't know what his situation was or anything like that. When I really thought about it and went over everything, this is where I want to be. This is the place I want to play football and hopefully be here forever. But it was an opportunity where they offered me it, and gave me the first dibs at it, and I wanted to jump on it. To be a player on this team is a special thing, I think."

Boller was a subject of seemingly relentless criticism during his first three seasons, but his arm strength and knowledge of the offensive system made him a comfortable choice as Ravens backup. Replacing an injured McNair in two games last season, Boller passed for 464 yards and five touchdowns and compiled a passer rating of 104.0.

Now the Ravens don't have to worry about negotiating with Leftwich or promoting rookie Troy Smith into the No. 2 role next season.

"It's one less thing that we have to deal with going forward, which clearly would have had to have been dealt with as we approached the end of the season going into the offseason," coach Brian Billick said.

Ogden status unclear

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (hyperextended toe) is questionable for Monday night's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. But one sign of optimism presented itself during the portion of practice open to the media yesterday when Ogden began practice without tape enveloping his entire left foot - as was the case Thursday.

Still, Billick said yesterday and today would be critical to determining Ogden's status.

"We'll have some definition to it, even if we don't tell you all tomorrow," he said.

Defensive end Trevor Pryce (back) and linebacker Antwan Barnes (ankle) were also listed as questionable. Pryce appeared to move around with little pain in the team's locker room after practice.

Wide receiver Mark Clayton (sprained ankle), cornerback Samari Rolle (sprained ankle) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained ankle) are probable. Running back Mike Anderson missed yesterday's practice to deal with a personal matter, Billick said.

Stills expects to play

Linebacker Gary Stills returned to practice after being absent Thursday with what the team called a chest injury.

He appeared to take it slowly during special teams practice, but Stills, who set a franchise record with 44 special teams tackles last season, said he doesn't plan to miss his first game since 2001.

Bengals injury report

Bengals offensive tackle Willie Anderson (foot) and cornerback Johnathan Joseph (foot) are questionable for Monday night, but both starters did take part in practice after missing Thursday's session. Starting center Eric Ghiaciuc (neck) did not practice and is also listed as questionable.

Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (knee) was limited in practice, but he is probable.

Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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