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Wright's place is as a starter at last for Ravens

By Wire services
Published January 3, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Anthony Wright began the season as Baltimore's third-string quarterback, buried on the depth chart behind an untested rookie and a rusty veteran coming off back surgery.

Wright probably suspected he was destined to replay his 2002 season, which he spent on the bench. He certainly had no reason to expect anything else, even if he had more experience than the other two quarterbacks combined.

But from the outset of training camp Wright prepared for every practice as if he were starting. And now, incredibly, he is.

He plays his first postseason game today against Tennessee. It has been an amazing turnaround for the journeyman, whose seven starts are two more than in his first five pro seasons combined.

"My parents, my brothers, my other family members, they always ask me if I realize what's going on," he said. "I haven't really sat down and thought about it. Myself, I just try to keep a level head about the situation and keep focused on what we have to do to get to Houston."

If the Ravens are to get to Houston, site of the Super Bowl, it likely won't be on the strength of Wright's right arm. His responsibility is merely to be accurate enough to let running back Jamal Lewis and the formidable Ravens defense win.

"Every week I come out and try to get Jamal started, then let everything else fall into place," Wright said.

Wright did little more than run the scout team until November. Then, after starter Kyle Boller injured his leg and backup Chris Redman performed miserably in relief during a loss to the Rams, Wright started Nov.16 in a 9-6 overtime loss to Miami. Baltimore is 5-1 since.

He has performed well enough to keep the role though Boller is healthy now.

In the playoffs, Wright will be asked to reprise the role of Trent Dilfer, who took the Ravens to a world championship in 2001 by doing little more than avoiding interceptions and silly turnovers.

"Anthony has some assets around him. What we will ask him to do is in the framework of what we do," Baltimore coach Brian Billick said. "We have been here before, and have had some success with it."

During the regular season, Wright went 94-for-178 for 1,199 yards and nine touchdowns. He also threw eight interceptions, miscues that must be kept to a minimum if the Ravens are to advance.

Wright has never played in a bigger game, but he has no intention of letting the situation dictate his performance.

"Pressure? I don't really view it like that," he said. "I just see it as another game."

[Last modified January 3, 2004, 01:33:24]

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