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McNair recovering from injuries



Published: Tue, October 17, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



He suffered a concussion and neck sprain when crunched by two tacklers.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Steve McNair is expected to recover from a concussion and neck sprain sustained Sunday in time for Baltimore's next game. When he returns, it will be as the starting quarterback.

The Ravens have an open this week, which means McNair will have additional time to bounce back from the injuries he received in a 23-21 loss to Carolina. He was helped off the field after being sacked in the first quarter by Mike Rucker and Chris Draft.

"Steve is here today, and he's doing pretty [well]," coach Brian Billick said Monday at the team's practice facility. "He's groggy. He went through the full gauntlet of tests. He seems to be OK, and right now there's no reason to believe he won't be available for us in two weeks when we go to New Orleans."

McNair was replaced Sunday by Kyle Boller, who started for three seasons but was relegated to the bench when Baltimore obtained McNair in an offseason trade with Tennessee. Playing for the first time since serving mop-up duty in the season opener, Boller went 17-for-31 for 226 yards and three touchdowns.

Scoring more points

With Boller leading the way, the Ravens scored more points than in the previous two weeks combined. Boller's 97 quarterback rating is vastly superior to that of McNair, who has thrown seven interceptions against five touchdowns and has a rating of 64.1.

But the Ravens didn't get McNair, a three-time Pro Bowler, to sit on the bench.

"Steve's our starting quarterback," Billick declared. "We feel fortunate to have two good quarterbacks. We think Kyle Boller is an excellent quarterback. He's a guy with 30-plus starts, is very athletic, has a great arm, is very intelligent. ... But Steve is clearly the starting quarterback, and we're all relieved that it doesn't look this is going to have any lingering effects."

McNair inconsistent

Although McNair helped the Ravens (4-2) win their first four games, he has been inconsistent. He was intercepted three times in a loss to Denver, and the last of his four passes against Carolina was picked off by Colin Branch.

Before that, however, McNair directed two blowout wins against Tampa Bay and Oakland and brought the Ravens back in late wins over Cleveland and San Diego.

The two-week break will enable McNair to shake off the effects of the concussion and further acclimate himself to the Baltimore offense. His teammates could probably use a breather, too. Although the Ravens remain atop the AFC North, their confidence has been shaken over the past two weeks.

"These guys need a rest," Billick said. "There's nothing we could get out of this week, physically or mentally, that would help us more than the rest that we need right now."

That might be true, but the Ravens aren't happy about the prospect of waiting two weeks to end their current skid.

"Just from the mental aspect of things, we'd like to go into this bye week on a high note," tight end Todd Heap said. "Sitting for two weeks with the taste of a loss in your mouth is not going to be fun. Hopefully we can all reflect and figure out what we need to do to get better as a team."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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