Kyle Boller will reclaim his job as the Baltimore Ravens’ starting quarterback this Sunday, hopeful he can revive the team’s lackluster offense after missing seven games with a toe injury.

Boller hasn’t played since hyperextending his right big toe in the season opener against Indianapolis. He was replaced by Anthony Wright, who produced only two wins and will serve as the backup against Jacksonville.

“Kyle Boller is our starting quarterback, and we weren’t going to change that perspective after … he got hurt,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said Monday. “We have said all along, at the appropriate time, when he is healthy, we would go back to him as our starting quarterback. We’re committed to his development, committed to him being the guy. We have no reason to think that Kyle Boller isn’t the quarterback we all thought he could be.”

Boller struggled at times during his first two seasons in the league, but this year was supposed to be different. Baltimore promoted Jim Fassel to offensive coordinator, hired Rick Neuheisel as quarterbacks coach and added wide receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton in an effort to improve the passing game.

The plan went awry when Boller got injured and Baltimore is 2-6.

But now he’s back, eager to bolster an offense that has scored only seven touchdowns in eight games and was held to three field goals in a 21-9 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.

“All I can do is go out there and work. It’s about being efficient, getting the ball in the end zone, scoring points, not turning the ball over,” Boller said. “You do those things and you’re going to have a chance to win. That’s what I’m looking forward to, getting out there with my guys.

“It’s been hard sitting and watching. The opportunity has come. I’m glad it’s here and I’m going to hopefully take advantage of it.”


Roy Williams was ready to play. He’s still not sure why he didn’t.

Williams, who expected to see 25 to 30 snaps in Sunday’s 27-14 loss to Minnesota despite a pulled quadriceps, ended up playing only three.

“If I’ve got my uniform on, I’m ready to go,” he said Monday. “If I wasn’t going to play, I would have been wearing a T-shirt and shorts. If I have an 11 on my chest, I can go.”

After missing three games with the injury, Williams made his first appearance in the first quarter when Mike Williams left the game with a twisted ankle. After one play, the series ended and Lions coach Steve Mariucci brought his depleted receiving corps together on the sideline.

“I was trying to shift the receivers around, and I asked Roy if he could play the Z (flanker) position for the rest of the game,” Mariucci said.

“He said he didn’t think his leg was up to that. I had to base things a lot on his decision. I can’t feel how much his leg hurts.”

Williams played two more snaps in the second quarter, then sat out the rest of the game.

“In the third quarter, I talked to the wide receiver coach and asked if I was going to play any more,” he said. “He said Probably not,’ so I started eating sunflower seeds and tried to pump the other guys up.

“I was ready at all times, but they didn’t put me in the game. Maybe, with the score 24-0, they decided it wasn’t worth the risk of me making it worse.”


Kicker David Akers agreed to a contract extension through the 2010 season.

The deal came on the day the Eagles said Terrell Owens won’t return to the team this year.

The outspoken All-Pro wideout was suspended three more games, and will be deactivated the final five games.

A three-time Pro Bowl kicker, Akers is ranked fifth on the NFL’s all-time career field goal accuracy list (82.1 percent). He set an NFL record in 2004 with 17 field goals of 40 yards or longer.

Akers missed the last four games and parts of two others with a hamstring injury, but returned to make his only field-goal attempt in a 17-10 loss to Washington on Sunday.

Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook got a five-year, $25 million contract extension from Philadelphia on Sunday.


The Rams took steps toward saving their season without quarterback Marc Bulger, wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, and defensive end Leonard Little, winning two straight to bring the record to 4-4 in the NFC West heading into this week’s game at first-place Seattle (6-2).

Now, their best players can help them keep building.

“Anytime you get Marc, Torry and Isaac back, that’s an all-star roster in itself,” rookie guard Claude Terrell said. “You’ve been pretty good without those guys and hopefully that just makes it even better.”

Bulger missed two games and part of a third with a shoulder injury.

Little has missed the last two games while mourning the shooting death of his younger brother, Jermaine. Holt missed two games with strained knee ligaments, and Bruce was out five games with turf toe.


Tampa Bay is sticking with Chris Simms. The third-year quarterback has struggled in two starts since Brian Griese was lost for the season.

But coach Jon Gruden said Monday he has no plans to make a change this week against Washington.

“I think he’s getting better,” Gruden said, looking back on Sunday’s 34-14 loss to Carolina, the Bucs’ third loss in four games and second straight since Griese had year-ending knee surgery.

Simms completed 25 of 42 passes for 259 yards, including a perfectly thrown 50-yarder that Joey Galloway ran under in the end zone.But he also was sacked five times for the second straight week, lost a fumble and threw two interceptions, one of which Chris Gamble returned 61 yards for a touchdown that gave the Panthers a 24-7 lead.

Second-year pro Luke McCown, who made four starts as a rookie with Cleveland, is Simms’ backup.

Two days after Griese went down, the Bucs acquired former San Francisco starter Tim Rattay as the No. 3 quarterback.


Sam Adams is more irritated than motivated after spending the final half of Buffalo’s last game on the bench.

If the Bills want more production out of their Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Adams has a solution: play him more.

“I need to be on the field,” Adams said Monday. “You put the player in that’s going to give you the best chance to win, so there it is.”

The Bills are coming off a bye week, and Adams’ comments were his first chance to react since he spent the second half on the bench in Buffalo’s 21-16 loss at New England on Oct. 30.

Coach Mike Mularkey wouldn’t provide a definitive reason why he benched Adams, but said he hoped the player would be motivated by it when the Bills (3-5) open the second half of their season hosting Kansas City on Sunday.

Adams shrugged off Mularkey’s comments.

“It doesn’t hurt my feelings,” Adams said. “No, that doesn’t motivate me at all. It irritates me and takes away the focus of what I need to do … I need to play to win.”


Carolina’s fifth straight victory moved the Panthers to 6-2 and into a tie for the best record in the NFC. But as coach John Fox quickly pointed out, it really only assured them of finishing at least 6-10 this season.

That pessimistic attitude is what Fox uses to keep the Panthers from ever getting too high. It worked in 2003 en route to the only Super Bowl appearance in team history, and again last season when the Panthers were beset with injuries and started the year 1-7.

Fox said Monday he’ll continue preaching that same sermon.

“It (celebrating) is allowed – I don’t walk around with a big stick and hit people over the head or anything,” Fox said. “I think it still is what it is. We are 6-2 and we are one game away from being the worst team in football.

“If you just be the same guy and go to work each day with your lunch pail and get your work done, those things take care of themselves. We don’t want to get too far ahead or get too far behind, just stay in the now.”

It works for the Panthers, who kept Sunday’s 34-14 victory over the Bucs in perspective. The win put them a game up on Tampa Bay in the NFC South and left them tied with Atlanta and the New York Giants for the best conference record.

AP-ES-11-07-05 1830EST

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