Fifth-year veteran quarterback Anthony Wright, who has neither started nor even appeared in a regular-season game since 2001, will start for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, replacing the injured Kyle Boller against the Miami Dolphins.
Coach Brian Billick told Wright, 26, of his assignment on Tuesday, after the staff opted for him over Chris Redman, the primary backup.
Billick said Wednesday that Wright's mobility
in the pocket earned him the job over Redman, who was sacked
five times and fumbled twice in relief of Boller in a 33-22 loss to
St. Louis on Sunday night.
"That's a tough situation for Chris, but the reason we're going
with Anthony Wright is that right now Anthony's physical attributes
fit better with what we're doing," Billick said. "That's not
Chris' fault; it's just a matter of Anthony's athleticism. That's
the primary thing. He fits more with what we do in both our running
and passing game."
Wright or Redman, it makes no difference to the Dolphins, who
are preparing for a clash with the NFL's leading rusher, Jamal
Lewis, and the league's top-ranked running game.
"It's not going to change our preparation a bit," Miami
linebacker Junior Seau said. "They have a great running back in
Jamal, and he's going to be our focal point."
New backup quarterback Ray Lucas, signed by the Ravens on Tuesday afternoon to bolster the depth chart in the absence of Boller, had revealed to Baltimore reporters on Tuesday that he had been told Wright was getting the nod.
"I think that's what I heard," Lucas said. "But I don't know that for a fact. I may have stuck my foot in my mouth. That's all I need. I haven't even unpacked yet."
Sources said that Wright, excited by the opportunity, had already begun earnestly studying film of the Miami defense, and planned to go late into the night attempting to identify tendencies and alignments. For Wright, the Sunday contest will mark only his ninth regular-season appearance, and his sixth start.
Boller, who had started the Ravens' first nine games but was injured Sunday night at St. Louis, underwent Tuesday surgery to repair a quadriceps tear in his left leg. He likely will miss six weeks and, after begging the organization not to place him on the injured reserve list, will remain on the active roster.
The Ravens still hope that Boller, one of their two first-round selections in the 2003 draft, will be able to return, either late in the year or for the playoffs.
Baltimore coaches have been intrigued since 2002 by the potential of Wright, who has a strong arm and some escape dimension. Although he did not take a single snap all of last season for the Ravens, the team re-signed him this summer, and the coaches continued to be impressed by his athletic ability.
Given the manner in which opposition defenses typically align against the Ravens, the feeling is that Wright provides the team a better chance to win than does Redman, who was abysmal in relief of Boller during the second half of Sunday's game.Since the Ravens rely so lopsidedly on the running of tailback Jamal Lewis, opponents typically play eight defenders "in the box" and dare Baltimore to throw the ball. There are usually opportunities for plays on the outside, but Redman lacks the arm strength to get the ball there. Arm strength has never been a problem for Wright, although accuracy is sometimes a concern, as evidenced by a 46.4 completion percentage.
Wright has completed 70 of 151 pass attempts for 766 yards, with five touchdowns, eight interceptions and a passer efficiency rating of 50.8. He began his career with Pittsburgh in 1999 as an unsigned college free agent, then moved to the Dallas Cowboys, starting two games in 2000 and three in 2001.
The choice of Wright is just the latest setback for Redman, once regarded as the Ravens' quarterback of the future, but a player who has clearly fallen into disfavor with Billick. A third-round choice in the 2000 draft, Redman opened the '02 season as the starter, then suffered a back injury in October and missed the balance of the campaign.
Redman underwent offseason back surgery, went to training camp this summer atop the depth chart, then was beaten out by the rookie Boller for the starting spot.
Lucas, 31, will serve as the third quarterback for now. The six-year veteran has played in 52 games with 15 starts but was released by the Miami Dolphins this spring. He has 280 completions in 483 attempts, for 3,029 yards, with 18 touchdown passes, 17 interceptions and a passer rating of 74.3.
Lucas, who started six games for the Dolphins last season, passed his physical and
will join the Ravens on Wednesday.
To make room for Lucas on the roster, the Ravens released little-used defensive lineman Riddick Parker.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.