Billick confirms rookie QB Smith to start against Seahawks

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Rookie quarterback Troy Smith will make his first start Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens visit the Seattle Seahawks.

With Kyle Boller missing his second consecutive day of practice due to lingering effects from a concussion, including headaches and sensitivity to light, Ravens coach Brian Billick confirmed Thursday that Smith will take his place.

"With Kyle, it would be problematic for him on Sunday, so, hopefully, he will be available to back up," Billick said. "Missing two days of practice would make it tough. We're certainly not going to put him at risk."

Billick acknowledged that Smith, last year's Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State, may also be in the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to Boller's injury.

"Concussions are very unpredictable," Billick said.

Smith will be the third quarterback to start for the Ravens this season. Steve McNair started six of the first nine games, but struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness and was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 3.

Smith rushed for a touchdown in his NFL debut against Indianapolis on Dec. 9, and directed a game-tying drive in regulation in a 22-16 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

"He's a very strong personality," Billick said. "If things get ugly with him, he'll be all right through whatever happens. He's a very strong-willed young man."

If Boller is unavailable to be the backup, then the Ravens would likely promote undrafted rookie Cullen Finnerty from the practice squad. Wide receiver Mark Clayton is a potential emergency option.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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