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Ravens sign QB Stewart to back up Wright

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (Sept. 14, 2005) -- Kordell Stewart worked diligently to stay in shape this summer, hopeful some NFL team would give him the opportunity to extend his career.

His effort was rewarded. The Baltimore Ravens signed Stewart to play behind Anthony Wright, who will replace an injured Kyle Boller as the starter Sept. 18 against the Tennessee Titans.

Stewart, 32, is a perfect fit with the Ravens. The 10-year veteran served as their backup last season while Wright recovered from shoulder surgery, and although Stewart never threw a pass, he is quite familiar with the Baltimore offense.

"It's the logical choice," coach Brian Billick said. "Kordell was great for us last year. A great team member, understands the role. Hopefully there's enough carry-over for him, verbiagewise, that he can adjust quickly. It's a nice comfort zone having him back."

The Ravens are also comfortable with Wright as their starter. Billick said the game plan for Tennessee won't be altered much with Wright taking the snaps instead of Boller, who hyperextended his right big toe in the opening 24-7 loss to Indianapolis.

"One of the nice things about Kyle and Anthony is they have similar attributes," Billick said. "They're both active in the pocket, they both have strong arms, they both move around decently, so we don't have to change a whole lot."

It also helped that Wright got to play the final 20 minutes against the Colts.

"The good thing about it is we've practiced with Anthony," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "He got an opportunity to play in the second half. It's not like we're in Week 9 or 10 and all of a sudden you throw him in there."

The Ravens have a bye next week, and Billick said Boller could be ready to play against the New York Jets on Oct. 2. Whether Boller reclaims the starting job is uncertain.

"Anthony Wright is our starting quarterback, and he will be our starting quarterback until circumstances change," Billick said. "That's the only approach we can take. Kyle's going to be in his boot watching the game this weekend. That's as far forward as we're going to go with it."

The Ravens will determine this week whether to use Stewart or rookie Derek Anderson as the backup to Wright. If Stewart can grasp the offense, he will get the call.

Stewart was watching the Ravens' game against Indianapolis at home when Boller got injured. At that moment, Stewart pretty much knew his brief hiatus was over.

"My heart started beating pretty fast," he said. "When I saw that, my heart went out to him and I kind of in the back of my mind thought I might get a call."

The Ravens contacted him Sept. 12, and Stewart worked out for the team Sept. 13 before signing Sept. 14. Just like that, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star and 2001 Pro Bowler was back in the NFL.

"It was just a matter of time. I'm young in comparison to some quarterbacks that are playing right now," he said. "So, as far as my confidence and thinking it was going to happen, yes I did. You always have that hope, wishing someone could call you sooner rather than later."

For Wright, starting against the Titans is also a comeback of sorts. His last start came in the 2003 playoffs against Tennessee, a game the Ravens lost. Wright underwent shoulder surgery a few months later and did not play a single down in 2004.

"It was very tough. You want to be out there competing," he said. "Not having a chance to play was really tough. But I tried to turn a negative into a positive. I tried to look at it from a positive aspect, continue to watch the game, study the game and learn things that I didn't know before."

His objective is not to take the job away from Boller. Wright merely wants to beat the Titans, then let the coaches decide who plays next.

"I want to show them that I haven't lost a step, that I'm the same guy that helped this team get to the playoffs a couple years ago," Wright said. "Whenever they need me, I'll step up and do whatever's asked."

To make room for Stewart on the 53-man roster, the Ravens waived wide receiver Patrick Johnson.

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