Blog & Tackle: Vet QB back as starter (right now)

August 05, 2008 | Chris Pika

The second-biggest quarterback news of the day in the NFL outside of Green Bay is that Kyle Boller will be the starter for the Ravens in the club’s first preseason game this Thursday at New England.

Now, somebody had to be the starter this week. It’s not like the Ravens flipped a coin, like the Bears did to establish the No. 1 QB for the first day of training camp. But, the choice is significant in that Boller will get about a half’s worth of action against the Pats’ No. 1 and No. 2 defenses.

Remember that the Ravens offense you will see is “vanilla,” meaning there will be base offensive sets, but you will see nothing in the play-calling that will mimic what it will look like in the first week of the regular season. It’s all about timing and getting into a flow of success on offense – first downs and points. For the defense, it’s getting the crucial “three-and-outs.”

All game snaps are precious, especially in a key position battle. Somebody has to make the first impression and Boller, as the most experienced QB on the roster, has drawn the assignment over Troy Smith and Joe Flacco.

Again, decisions on starters and backups are made over the long haul. Treat the preseason action you will watch Thursday like you would the NFL Combine.

It’s very similar. By the time the combine rolls around, the club has seen game tape, all-star game practice tape, personal interviews, etc. What they do at the combine isn’t as important as the shape they are in, if they have a good attitude and how they stack up against others at their position overall.

The preseason games have the same feel. Coaches and personnel have had the offseason workouts, classroom sessions, OTAs, minicamps and training camp to form opinions. The game snaps are the final piece in a large puzzle and another chance to evaluate the talent level on hand.

In both cases, combine and preseason, the player’s stock does not rise or fall on one performance. It’s another step in the gradual forming of the final opinion before decisions are made in the draft room and on the depth chart.

It’s not as important to be first in the opener as it is to be first in the third, and most important, preseason game when the starters go about midway into the third quarter.

Without any roster changes between now and the regular season, 27 of the 80 players on the current roster will be cut loose. Every preseason game tape will be watched by the Ravens’ brain trust and the other 31 clubs — all looking for better players than the ones they have right now and seeing who might be available.

It is a shakedown cruise for the players and staff, and each player will compete against someone wearing a different-colored helmet across the line, instead of a teammate at practice every day as the John Harbaugh era gets under way in Baltimore.