Sore shoulder, ineffectiveness could shelve McNair Print
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Monday, 12 November 2007 12:25
NFL Headline News

 OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -If his ineffectiveness doesn't send Steve McNair to the Baltimore Ravens bench, perhaps a sore shoulder will.
The struggling quarterback has developed ``substantial soreness'' in his non-throwing shoulder, Ravens coach Brian Billick said Monday. That, coupled with McNair's unsightly numbers over the past two weeks, could cause Billick to turn to Kyle Boller in Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.
McNair, who has already missed time this season with groin and back injuries, committed three turnovers and threw for only 128 yards Sunday before being replaced in the fourth quarter of a 21-7 loss to Cincinnati. Six days earlier, McNair lost two fumbles and threw an interception in a 38-7 defeat at Pittsburgh.
Billick insisted Monday no decision has been made on the starting quarterback against the Browns, saying he needed more information on McNair's physical status.
``Right now, the injury is what we will have to address first and foremost, to see exactly what that is,'' Billick said. ``I'll have to visit with Steve to see first how he is doing physically, to see where he's at, and factor that into it.''
McNair was given two weeks off before the Ravens' bye on Oct. 28. But the extended break did little to increase his effectiveness, and now Baltimore (4-5) is mired in a three-game losing streak that has all but shattered the team's bid to return to the playoffs.
Boller has more mobility than the ailing McNair, but Billick isn't quite ready to turn the offense over to a quarterback whose poor play caused the Ravens to trade for McNair in the first place.
``We've got some more work to do before I can definitively tell you that's the direction we're going,'' Billick said. ``... I have a great deal of faith in Kyle. What I'm waiting on is more information to be available to us before going forward.''
McNair was hailed in Baltimore last year for helping the team win the AFC North with a 13-3 record. Now he is being booed, never louder than after his second fumble Sunday.
McNair's health is clearly a factor. Since hurting his groin on the second play in the season opener against the Bengals, he has not resembled the quarterback that shared the 2003 MVP award - let alone the player who last year threw 16 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions.
This season, McNair has lost seven fumbles, thrown four interceptions and tossed only two touchdown passes, none since Sept. 30.
``It's painful to watch him deal with what he's dealing with right now,'' Billick conceded.
Asked after Sunday's game whether he expected to start against Cleveland, McNair responded, ``Right now, my turnovers have been killing this team. I don't know what the coaches are going to decide. If they decide to go with Kyle, that's fine. I'll probably agree with them.''
Boller has thrown 71 fewer passes than McNair, but has more touchdown throws (3) and one fewer interception. After replacing McNair late in Sunday's game, Boller produced Baltimore's lone touchdown against the league's 31st-ranked defense.
 

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