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Smith could be this year's version of Browns' Anderson

See if this sounds familiar.

At this time last year, desperate to solidify their quarterback position for years to come, the Cleveland Browns packaged picks to move up in the draft and select Brady Quinn.

Cleveland firmly believed it had drafted its quarterback of the future -– until the lightly regarded backup Derek Anderson came off the bench and out of nowhere to start the final 15 games of the season.

One year later, desperate to solidify their quarterback position for years to come, the Baltimore Ravens packaged picks to move up in the draft and select Joe Flacco.

Baltimore firmly believed it had drafted its quarterback of the future. And maybe it has. But this spring, Baltimore's backup quarterback, Troy Smith, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, has done his best Derek Anderson impression, surprising coaches while vying for the starting job.

There are those in Baltimore who now believe Smith has a legitimate chance to beat out Kyle Boller and Flacco to win the starting job.

Boller has been running the Ravens' first-string offense throughout Organized Team Activities, however Smith has gotten his reps with the unit and has impressed during his work.

Ravens officials said Smith has learned and assimilated the Ravens' new offense quickly. He has demonstrated the necessary leadership abilities. He has acted like he should be –- and will be –- the starting quarterback, which wouldn't be that unusual.

Smith started the Ravens' last two games last season, losing in Seattle and beating Pittsburgh at home. During his rookie year, Smith completed 40-of-76 passes for 452 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 79.5 quarterback rating was better than other notable rookie campaigns.

Eli Manning's quarterback rating his rookie year in 2004 was 55.4, Byron Leftwich's in 2003 a 73.0, Donovan McNabb's in 1999 a 60.1. Clearly, Smith is capable.

The Ravens had been told that Smith would grow on them, just as he did on the Ohio State Buckeyes. So far what they heard has been what they've seen. Smith has grown on them. He will have the chance to continue growing, and competing, this summer.

Once, Baltimore had and cut Derek Anderson. Now it hopes it has this year's version of him.

No Isaac Bruce, but Bruce Gradkowski

First, St. Louis signed veteran quarterback Trent Green to play behind Marc Bulger. But the Rams didn't stop there.

The Rams claimed former Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on waivers Thursday. St. Louis gets Gradkowski and the two years he has remaining on his contract.

Just as notable as the team that was awarded Gradkowski were the teams that put in claims for him that weren't. The Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears also put in claims for Gradkowski, but the Rams had an earlier claim and thus were awarded the quarterback.

Oakland has been searching for another backup quarterback to JaMarcus Russell, and would have been happy to take a Jon Gruden-tutuored player.

With Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, the Bears still do not have a short- or long-term answer to their quarterback issues. Gradkowski would have made a nice alternative, but St. Louis thought the same.

In memory ...

Rosalind Williams, the mother of the former Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, recently was unpacking some of her son's belongings when she found one of his notebooks.

Inside, were handwritten notes in which Darrent spelled out his goals –- helping his community, adding sporting and arts facilities for inner city youths, running football camps and back-to-school drives.

"It was as if Darrent was saying, 'Mama, here's your purpose,'" wrote Rosalind Williams. "We all know I can't get out there on the football field and live out Darrent's career dream, but I can fulfill his dreams for his communities."

Now she is trying. With the help of others, Rosalind Williams is hosting The Inaugural Darrent Williams Foundation Fundraising Gala on Friday, June 13 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. There will be dinner, dancing and a silent auction.

The city of Fort Worth Texas has declared the next day, June 14th, Darrent Williams Day, when there will be a parade in the city.

For more information about the fundraising event, please go to

Plummer cleans up

Tampa Bay has resigned itself to the fact that quarterback Jake Plummer will not report to the Buccaneers. But Plummer still is getting his athletic thrills.

Last weekend, Plummer and his brother Eric won the Sandpoint West Athletic Club's 18th annual Spring Classic handball tournament in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Plummer would rather play handball than football –- and it doesn't look like he'll be calling any audibles on his life, now or ever.

Extra points

» While Packers running back Ryan Grant has stayed away from practice until he gets a new contract, last year's second-round pick Brandon Jackson has taken advantage of his increased opportunities. The Packers say Jackson has looked more comfortable with Green Bay's offense than he did last year, when he finished the season with a 113-yard rushing game versus Detroit. Jackson has come into OTAs stronger, better and more confident -– and it has been evident in his play. Jackson is expected to have a bigger year this year.

» Not only is Chad Johnson likely to report to Cincinnati's mandatory minicamp next week, but so is T.J. Houshmandzadeh. As is his custom, Houshmandzadeh has spent the offseason working out in California so he could be closer to his family.

» Now that former Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin has passed his physicals and demonstrated he could play in a game tomorrow, Indianapolis and Houston each are pushing to sign him. And each has a selling point. Colvin played high school football in Indianapolis, and it would be nice to return. But the Texans have their general manager Rick Smith, who once successfully recruited Colvin to Purdue. Now Smith is trying to successfully recruit Colvin again.

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