Next week's Senior Bowl was supposed to feature a highly anticipated quarterback battle between Boston College's Matt Ryan, the nation's top senior signal caller and the recipient of the Johnny Unitas Award, and Brian Brohm of Louisville. The winner would have the inside track to being the first quarterback selected in April's NFL draft.

But it appears the showdown may not take place. According to several sources, it is highly unlikely that Ryan (who is not injured) will play in the game. Late Tuesday afternoon Senior Bowl officials said they do not expect Ryan, who has been working out in Arizona, to take part in any Senior Bowl events. Players are scheduled to report to Mobile, Ala., for weigh-ins on Monday morning.

Last year Notre Dame's Brady Quinn unexpectedly pulled out of the Senior Bowl just days prior to the start, even though scouts were anticipating his participation. Quinn claimed a knee injury forced him to the sidelines, but NFL personnel men thought differently. In the end Quinn, originally predicted to be a top-10 selection in the draft, was not chosen until the 22nd pick. Scouts and general managers later claimed there were too many unanswered questions about him.

Ryan and Quinn share the same agent, St. Louis-based Tom Condon. Attempts to reach Condon were unsuccessful.

Delaware's Joe Flacco, a strong-armed passer flying up draft boards, has been tabbed to take Ryan's place.

Ryan is coming off a banner season in which he threw for 4,507 yards and 31 touchdowns in leading Boston College to a 11-3 record. Early projections have Ryan being selected as high as No. 5, but some scouts aren't sure about his pure arm strength and ability to make a number of NFL-type passes.

The Senior Bowl has been a showcase for quarterback prospects over the last 10 years. Players such as Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, David Carr and Philip Rivers rose up NFL draft boards after brilliant performances at the major pre-draft scouting event.

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