Kordell Stewart is still figuring out where he will live once the football season begins. For the time being, his home is a room in the hotel that the Baltimore Ravens have taken over during training camp.
"What I need is what I have with me," Stewart said Saturday morning after practice.
After nine seasons in the NFL, the first eight with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Stewart is happy to still be in the league and on a team that has high expectations, even though he was brought in to back up second-year starter Kyle Boller. Stewart was cut by the Steelers and spent last season with the Chicago Bears before being released in March and signing a one-year contract with the Ravens in June for the veteran minimum of $760,000.
"I know in my mind I am a starter in this National Football League, but yet you have to submit yourself to the situation," Stewart said. "And that's basically what I'm doing, submitting myself to this situation but yet still preparing as if I'm the starter on this football team and giving Kyle the respect and helping him the best way I can based on the understanding and experience I have in this league. . . . You don't have to help by actually going out on the field and playing on Sundays, but to help the guy in front of you, to try to see him do well and play the game through him."
Stewart, 31, is two seasons removed from leading the Steelers to the AFC championship game and earning an invitation to the Pro Bowl. But he has thrown 13 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions in the past two seasons and was left without an opportunity to vie for a starting job this season.
When it was learned that the Ravens' projected backup, Anthony Wright, would need shoulder surgery this summer, the team moved quickly to sign Stewart to complement Boller. Wright is expected to be out until October.
"When Anthony hurt the shoulder and there was the opportunity to bring in somebody, we felt like, 'Now it's somebody telling us something, and we need to get a veteran in here that's got some experience and can be a big help to Kyle on the sideline and in the classroom,' " offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said.
Stewart said he does not mind his new role helping the 23-year-old Boller and that his preparation is the same as if he were the starter.
"Still in the National Football League," said Stewart, who compared his position to being the sixth man on a basketball team, "still doing what I love to do. Still can play. Going through a transition just like every player goes through when they go from one place to another."
"He's a professional," said Ravens Coach Brian Billick, adding that it was easy to see the athletic ability that makes Stewart such a dangerous player. "He understands he's one snap away from having to carry this team into the playoffs, much like Anthony Wright did last year" after Boller was injured.
Stewart said that his transition to a new team this offseason was made easier by going through a similar experience last season. It is obvious he still wants the chance to play, but he knows his place and in the meantime is quite content.
"I have everything," Stewart said. "Got the team, my health, I'm capable of what I want to do, still playing ball. Not really too much I'm missing other than some hot wings and a Budweiser. That's about the only thing I'm missing. Other than that, I'm cool."