It's looking more and more likely that Troy Smith will get that first crack at the Raven's open quarterback job. It's being treated as a three-man race, but Flacco is playing like a rookie and the team would be taking a step back by handing the job to Boller. I think he was the young guy I was grooming on Madden five years ago if that tells you anything about how many chances he's failed to win the job in Baltimore.
Smith is looking to build on what he showed as a starter in the last two weeks of last season. After dropping his first start against the Seahawks, Smith rebounded to lead the Ravens to a victory against the Steelers in the finale (video) -- and it wasn't even against the scrubs as it was a game the Steelers were trying to win in order to move up as a playoff seed. Smith helped lead the Ravens to a 17-0 lead -- their largest of the season -- and the win snapped a Ravens nine-game losing streak*.
If he does hold onto the starting spot this season, he'll have to pay a little more attention to his blind side. Left tackle and future NFL HoFer Jonathan Ogden rode off into the sunset and attempting to fill his shoes will be 2nd-year guy Jared Gaither out of Maryland. Todd Heap is a reliable commodity -- when he's healthy -- and Mason and Clayton on the edges are more than adequate. If Willis McGahee can get up to speed on the playbook, he'll become invaluable to Troy's success, despite a young line. And Baltimore is uniquely set up for a young quarterback to etch himself into the hearts and record books -- not every city has Trent Dilfer as an obstacle to such greatness.
A Buckeye getting reps with the first team at an NFL camp is significant for two reasons. First, it allows us to finally start fantasizing about all-Buckeye NFL teams (though we're a little thin at RB for the moment with only Pittman representing -- this, of course, is subject to change soon). Second, it's another move in the direction of establishing quarterback as a position top preps should come to Ohio State to play. Yes, Pryor is huge, but if you're a prototypical NFL quarterback, where are you going to go to school if given the choice between USC and OSU? The last time a Buckeye quarterback opened the season as the starting quarterback of an NFL team, gas sold for $1.03 a gallon. And that needs to change.
This is yet another example of Smith proving the naysayers incorrect. Whatever your thoughts on Inn-And-Out burger indiscretions, money from boosters or the curious play in the Florida game, you can't say that he hasn't excelled at proving doubters wrong.
* This win also featured the first of what figure to be many NFL games that see Smith and Santonio Holmes recording touchdowns against each other.