OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens are contemplating whether they should go with rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor as the backup to starter Joe Flacco.
The former Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year from Virginia Tech has registered some impressive moments during the preseason, enough so where the Ravens might not feel a pressing need to sign a veteran insurance policy in case anything happens to Flacco.
“I would be confident that he would go in there and play well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I think he can be the backup quarterback. Is he going to be the backup quarterback? We shall see.”
The Ravens will probably only want to carry two quarterbacks on the active roster with third quarterback Hunter Cantwell still having practice squad eligibility and likely to clear waivers if he’s released during the final major roster cut down next weekend.
The New England Patriots notably went with undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer a few years ago as the backup to star quarterback Tom Brady, and that arrangement has worked out well.
If something did happen to Flacco during the season, many of the veteran options such as Jake Delhomme, Chris Simms and J.P. Losman would still be available to be signed.
“I know I have to impress people and people are going to be watching me as far as the No. 2 job,” said Taylor, a sixth-round draft pick from Virginia Tech. “At the same time, I’m just trying to be the best quarterback I can be and show the coaches that I can be that guy if they need me to.”
Taylor engineered a 34-31 comeback victory over the Washington Redskins last week, tossing a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Jones late in the fourth quarter.
“Well, Tyrod, I would say he’s made the team: Newsflash,” Harbaugh said. “Tyrod played well. There are things that he needs to learn from. You have the ball third-and-two down there, you don’t take a sack.
“I think that’s something he’ll learn from. Yet and still, some of the throws he made in the teeth of pressure were just exceptional for us. He was using his feet to get out of trouble a couple of times.”
Completing 11 of 18 passes, Taylor passed for 125 yards, a touchdown and a 100.5 quarterback rating.
In three preseason games, Taylor has completed 35 of 57 passes for 392 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a 73.1 passer rating.
The biggest challenge Taylor has had to deal with is dealing with pass protection issues with the reserve linemen. He’s been sacked eight times.
He’s also rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
General manager Ozzie Newsome referenced Taylor’s precociousness during an interview with the team website.
“He has intangibles off the field, the way he handles himself as a person,” Newsome said earlier this month. “When you put on the tape and watch him play, you see him do some things a rookie quarterback shouldn’t be able to do.
There are going to be some veteran quarterbacks available.
“We can make a move at that point, but let’s get this guy a lot of snaps in the meantime. Who’s Peyton’s backup? Tom Brady? Maybe we can do that with this kid, too. He’s got something.”
For the Hokies, Taylor passed for 7,017 yards and 44 touchdowns and rushed for 2,196 yards and 23 touchdowns.
And he set school records for total offense with 9,213 yards, career passing yards, career rushing yards for a quarterback and career wins by a starting quarterback, surpassing Michael Vick’s records.
Taylor won 34 of 42 career starts, going to four bowl games and three ACC championship games.
Despite the NFL lockout costing him the chance to develop in minicamps, organized team activities and quarterback schools, Taylor has made his adjustments.
“Just learning quickly as possible,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t a challenge, just something you had to get used to. Everyone’s put in this situation. I had a chance to work out with the team early.
“During the lockout, Joe went over the playbook with me, some things that I should learn. I kept those in my head and studied that book as much as possible. So, I think that kind of helped me out.”