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Friday, August 15, 2014
Ravens may only keep two quarterbacks

By Jamison Hensley

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens may only keep keep two quarterbacks, even though they drafted Keith Wenning in the sixth round this year.

Let's call it an educated guess. The Ravens certainly sent out that vibe in the season opener, when Wenning only got on the field after Tyrod Taylor hurt his finger. Wenning played five snaps, handing off twice and kneeling three times.

Baltimore's Keith Wenning
Sixth-round pick Keith Wenning could be heading for the practice squad.
If a team wants to try to sneak a player on the practice squad, the NFL rule of thumb is to not let another team see anything on tape that would intrigue them enough to sign that player. So, if Wenning doesn't get any extended playing time in the preseason, it's likely because the Ravens want to store him on the practice squad and not use a spot on their 53-man roster on someone who is going to get essentially redshirted anyway.

When asked if Wenning will get more playing time, coach John Harbaugh said, "Tyrod needs work -- not that Keith doesn't, also -- but Tyrod has had lots of practice time here, but he hasn't had much game time. I'm looking forward … I think Tyrod is a really good quarterback, and the chance to play that out in a game is really what makes the difference. He needs that. Keith will get whatever work is available.”

This sounds like Joe Flacco will play a little over a quarter in Dallas on Saturday and Taylor will finish out the game. Sticking with two quarterbacks shouldn't be surprising. The Ravens haven't kept three quarterbacks on the roster since 2009 (Flacco, Troy Smith and John Beck).

Not playing Wenning in the preseason is a compliment of sorts. He's improved so much toward the end of camp that the Ravens don't want him to catch the eye of another team during a preseason game. The presumed plan is to develop Wenning into the primary backup by next season, when Taylor is a free agent.

Wenning acknowledged that he thinks about whether he'll make the final cut "a little bit."

"At the same time, you can't worry about that right now when you're trying to learn and get better," said Wenning, who is one of 33 Division I quarterbacks with at least 90 career passing touchdowns. "Being a rookie, you're trying to develop into a quarterback into a system. That's where I fall back to taking it day by day."

Wenning has also developed into a different looking quarterback. The Ravens asked him to lose weight, and he dropped 10 pounds.

"We just thought he was big and thick in his hips and stuff," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said of Wenning, who is now 213 pounds. "We thought he could move around a little better. I just see a difference. He's bouncing around a little better."

The challenge for Wenning is to get comfortable with a new system to the point where he's just playing and not thinking. He's studying the terminology so he can get in and out of the huddle faster. He's also visualizing his reads so he can progress through them quicker.

"I feel like I've come a long ways. At the same, I have a long way to go," Wenning said. "My biggest thing is trying to learn something new every day and have the game slow down for me."