Flacco Hits Ground Running

Street Talk Flacco Hits Ground Running

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Ravens QB Returns to Practice

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco returned to practice Saturday and seamlessly began working with the other starters.

Flacco ran without any issues and zipped balls around the indoor practice facility. It was hard to tell that he had missed more than a previous month of work because of a sore back.

“It feels good to be back out here with the guys and be a part of everything again,” Flacco said. “Really, it’s been a weird situation the last few weeks, because it’s just something you have to wait out. You’re putting in all the hard work you can, but at the same time, it’s a waiting game. You definitely have to fight against not doing anything, but also keep your mind fresh.”

The Ravens had more good news with the return of receiver Breshad Perriman and running back Danny Woodhead, both of whom have been out with hamstring injuries. In short, the Ravens finally had some of their key playmakers back on the field at a critical time — just over a week before the regular season opener in Cincinnati.

The challenge ahead is still daunting.

The Ravens have not won at Paul Brown Stadium since 2011. Flacco has especially struggled against the Bengals on the road, going 2-6 with five touchdowns and 12 interceptions over his career.

Coach John Harbaugh hopes this trip will be different.

In addition to Flacco, Perriman and Woodhead, the Ravens’ offensive line should be better. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Pro-Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda appear fully ready to play. General Manager Ozzie Newsome also made a couple of moves for added depth.

Dec 18, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage as Jacksonville Jaguars center Luke Bowanko (70) snaps the ball against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. The Jaguars defeated the Titans 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 18, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage as Jacksonville Jaguars center Luke Bowanko (70) snaps the ball against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. The Jaguars defeated the Titans 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

He acquired Tony Bergstrom from Arizona for a conditional seventh-round pick on Friday. One day later, the Ravens also picked center Luke Bowanko from the Jaguars for an undisclosed draft choice. Their roles remain to be seen with a just a week to learn the system and play-calls.

The addition of those two players spelled the end for promising young offensive lineman Matt Skura, who took reps with the first team in training camp, but did not make the final roster. Baltimore also parted ways with offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah, who signed a two-year deal Aug. 18 after being released by the 49ers. He started three years in Baltimore (2014-16) before being traded to San Francisco in March.

The coaches, however, did not appear enamored with Zuttah’s work ethic and he was beaten for a sack in the final preseason game against the Saints.

“The last two days have been pretty hectic that way,” Ravens coach Harbaugh said. “Guys have been great. We have relationships. Those conversations are not fun. They are difficult, but they are honest. We have relationships. We have gone a long way with a lot of these guys. You have a real honest conversation about where they are going and that sort of thing. It has been really good that way as well.”

Other Roster Notes

• The Ravens released both players — Ricky Ortiz and Lorenzo Taliaferro — competing for a spot at fullback. The Ravens used defensive tackle Patrick Ricard at that spot during the preseason and he was an effective blocker. That role might be another opportunity for him to get on the field. The Ravens still could add a fullback via free agency, but that does not appear likely.

• Despite his struggles over the preseason, Ryan Mallett won the job as the primary backup to Flacco. Mallett was outplayed by Josh Woodrum, but the Ravens likely valued his experience. Mallett threw for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (61.5 passer rating) over the four preseason games.

• Baltimore decided to keep three running backs, which meant no room for rookie Taquan Mizzell, who led the team in rushing during the preseason. The Ravens would like to keep Mizzell on the practice squad, but he might have played well enough to get looks from other teams.

• Promising young receivers Chris Matthews and Quincy Adeboyejo did not play their way onto the roster. They simply did not make enough plays to leap over Michael Campanaro and Chris Moore on the depth chart.

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe’s Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory.

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