BALTIMORE -- Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith has earned the job as the Baltimore Ravens' third-string quarterback. His place on the team, however, is not yet guaranteed.
The Ravens cut former UCLA quarterback Drew Olson on Monday, leaving Smith alone on the depth chart behind starter Steve McNair and backup Kyle Boller.
"What still has to be determined is if we'll carry two or three quarterbacks on the active roster," Baltimore coach Brian Billick said. "Last year we carried two."
Even if the Ravens go with only two quarterbacks, Smith will almost certainly earn a paycheck on Baltimore's practice squad. That's no small feat for the last player drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft, in part because he was deemed by some scouts to be too small to be a pro quarterback.
Rather than wait to make a decision, the Ravens cut ties with Olson -- who played in NFL Europa and was on Baltimore's practice squad last year -- and went with Smith.
"You just know there's loads and loads of potential there," offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel said. "It's difficult in the short time that we've been with him to get all that out of him, especially because he's trying to indoctrinate himself into a new offense, new terminology and all that kind of stuff.
"We made the decision to bank on the huge upside that Troy has," Neuheisel said.
Smith won the Heisman Trophy, threw 54 touchdown passes at Ohio State and led the Buckeyes into the national championship game last season. His outstanding college career couldn't prepare him for the NFL.
On Sunday, Smith was engaged in a friendly competition with Olson. On Monday, Olson was gone.
"I just gave him a call to see what time we were coming in and he told me they had released him," Smith said. "It was a shock to me. Guys you slapped fives with might not even be here. You never know. It's an incredible business."
Smith said beating out Olson provided no sense of relief and not one shred of satisfaction. There was no celebration, either.
"I never really had any feelings about it, still don't," Smith said. "To me, it's not declaring somebody as a winner. They make decisions in the front office we can't change. Drew's a great friend of mine. He's going to continue to be a friend of mine. We've got a football season to prepare for and that's what I'm going to do."
Said Billick: "Decisions have to be made. Drew was with us last year; he's a good, young man. I think he has a future. But we had to make a decision, and decided to see how it would play out with Troy."
In other moves Monday, the Ravens waived running back Greg Pruitt, Jr., safety Bobby Blackshire, cornerback Terrell Maze, punter Brendan Carney and long snapper Nick Leeson. Baltimore also placed linebackers Dan Cody (knee) and Mike Smith (shoulder) on the physically unable to perform list, and placed offensive lineman Steve Edwards (knee) on injured reserve.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press