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Overthrown: QB's time has passed

Goodbye, Kyle Boller.

Baltimore has probably seen the last of him, at least in a purple uniform.

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The team put Boller and his throwing shoulder on injured reserve yesterday and replaced him with journeyman Todd Bouman, 36.

The news wasn't surprising, especially because Boller had been telling teammates for the past couple of days that he was finished for the 2008 season.

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But it goes beyond that in Baltimore. This is probably the end of the most disappointing, unfulfilled career in the Ravens' short history.

Boller signed a one-year extension last season in early September and had life here as long as Brian Billick was the coach. But when Billick was fired Dec. 31, it was the beginning of the end for Boller because he lost his protection.

The first sign came in April, when the Ravens selected Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco in the first round of the draft.

There were more signs when coach John Harbaugh announced there would be an open competition for the starting job between Boller and Troy Smith.

How could that happen? A 2003 first-round pick should easily beat out Smith, a fifth-round pick in his second season. Right?

The end of Boller's playing days as a Raven probably came Aug. 16 at M&T; Bank Stadium, when he was sandwiched on the field between two Minnesota Vikings. He left the field sore that night and could leave Baltimore beaten and battered, as well.

This is not what the Ravens had in mind when they drafted Boller. They gave up two picks to the New England Patriots on draft day, including surrendering their first-round pick in 2004.

Boller was supposed to stop the merry-go-round of vagabond quarterbacks who had come through Baltimore.

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He was supposed to be the total package: the tall, good-looking quarterback who had the strong arm and the gorgeous smile. Legend had it that he could throw a football 50 yards from his knees through the goal posts.

We never saw that in Baltimore. What we saw was a quarterback who had a strong but erratic arm, one who couldn't process the game fast enough, especially in the red zone. Boller was just like most of his predecessors in Baltimore, a career backup at best.

Regardless of how he played, Boller continues to be a lightning rod here. His name can stir up plenty of debates in bars or draw lots of phone calls and e-mails.

Poor Kyle Boller.

He became a victim of the Ravens' scouting department and their public relations machine. He never lived up to the hype and wasn't given any time to adjust from the college to the pro game.

He started the first game of his rookie season in Pittsburgh. Billick thought he was ready, but few others did. Apparently, he wasn't.

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There are those in this town who thought Boller never got a chance. They argue he played behind average offensive lines and had no big-time receivers. They point out running back Jamal Lewis was on the decline during Boller's tenure.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

There are none for Boller. He had plenty of opportunities. He started 42 of the 53 games in which he played and completed 746 of 1,311 passes for 7,846 yards. He threw for 45 touchdowns but also threw 44 interceptions.

Boller's name was linked to Billick's, but Boller didn't have the game or the personality to take control of this team.

He didn't improve much on his throwing motion, especially on short passes, on which he delivered the ball as if it were a shot put. To deliver the long ball, he had to wind up, which destroyed that myth about his being a terrific long-ball thrower.

Boller had a lot of up-and-down moments in Baltimore. He was a teaser but never a pleaser. No matter how good he looked, he would just have those horrendous moments that ruined games. It was simple stuff, like failing to secure the ball.

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We've all cheered for Boller. We've all wanted him to succeed because he has been kicked around so much.

Even this season, we wanted him to have a good year because it might have landed him a job with another team in another city, where he could get a fresh start. That scenario has worked for others, so it could have worked for Boller.

But yesterday when Harbaugh announced Boller wouldn't be playing in 2008, reality set in again. It was time for a quarterback who had no more than journeyman's talent to move on.

Goodbye, Kyle Boller.


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