Stewart should serve as Boller backup

Updated: June 2, 2004, 8:33 PM ET
Associated Press

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Kordell Stewart agreed to a one-year contract Wednesday with the Baltimore Ravens, who plan to put the quarterback to work immediately.

Stewart will receive the league minimum $760,000 to replace the injured Anthony Wright as the backup to Kyle Boller. Stewart visited the Ravens' training complex Tuesday and stayed in the area, hopeful that an agreement could be reached.

The final details were settled early Wednesday evening, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. Stewart will participate Thursday during the final session of a two-day passing camp.

"He will be here (Thursday) and will be on the practice field," Newsome said. "He stayed over, which was his commitment. He wanted to be a Raven."

Stewart was hired to back up Boller and aid in the tutelage of the second-year pro, but there's also a chance that the former Pittsburgh Steelers' standout will be called upon to play.

"The history of quarterbacks getting injured in this league is incredible. He is one injury away from starting the first game against Cleveland," Newsome said. "That's just the nature of our business. It's good that we can have a person that has a veteran presence, one who has been in that situation and someone we have a history with."

Stewart played in eight years with the rival Steelers before enduring one rocky season in Chicago last year. If nothing else, he knows the Ravens -- and the Ravens know him.

"He's excited about being on a team he knows well and has played against. He sees the passion we play with, and that appeals to him," Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said Wednesday afternoon.

"I think he's hungry, and I think he's appreciative of the opportunity," Cavanaugh said. "We have what we wanted: A quality veteran backup that can help tutor Kyle and be ready to come off the bench if we need him."

That was the role that Wright played, but he will be sidelined until at least October after undergoing shoulder surgery last week. He was in camp Wednesday but can't resume throwing until September.

"It's been difficult, but I know it's part of the game," Wright said. "My focus right now is just getting back and getting ready to play in October. It's very frustrating, but these things are going to happen. This is just another obstacle I have to overcome."

Boller figures he and Stewart will benefit from the collaboration.

"I used to watch Kordell when he was at Pittsburgh; he's a veteran," Boller said. "Hopefully he'll be able to help me out and I'll be able to help him out."

Boller and Stewart were the two lowest-rated starting quarterbacks in the NFL last year. Boller had a 62.4 rating and Stewart was at 56.8 before losing the starting job to rookie Rex Grossman.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press