Joe Flacco is working hard to get back in the groove after being sidelined for a crucial chunk of the summer.
Doubts linger about how the Ravens’ franchise quarterback will start off his 10th season. Flacco was unable to participate in training camp and preseason games due to a back injury that put him out for more than a month. His team still logged four straight wins with backup Ryan Mallett filling in, but worries abound given that Flacco is still the planned starter for next Sunday, and hasn’t had much time to work with his receivers.
Fortunately, he finally got out on the field late last week. At a press conference on Friday, head coach John Harbaugh said his QB “practiced very well,” and added that as a coach he was “very encouraged” from watching his offense gel quickly with Flacco, receiver Breshad Perriman and running back Danny Woodhead all returning from injuries.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley reports it’s rare for quarterbacks to miss an entire preseason and then take the field ready to go. The only others to do it in the last 10 years were Tom Brady in New England (2008), Payton Manning in Indianapolis (2008) and Robert Griffin III in Washington (2013). Brady wound up getting re-injured and was out for the season; Manning excelled as usual; and RGIII imploded for his sophomore year in the NFL.
Flacco is a fish out of water in all of this. He’s never missed a preseason before, and has started all but six regular season games out of 144 in his pro career. He’ll now have only a few practices to prep for the 2017 kickoff, an away game against the Cincinnati Bengals, on Sunday, Sept. 10.
ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden said he thinks Flacco faces “a serious challenge” getting back on the field. “They’ve lost a lot of valuable time, the snap count, the pre-snap information gathering, the hand signals, all the things that these guys do that no one really studies.”
Harbaugh alluded to those challenges at Friday’s presser, but seemed optimistic. “Now one of the next pieces is to see how he responds to that over the next few days,” he said.
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