NFL Wire News

Flacco getting better and better as Ravens quarterback


The Sports Xchange

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While the Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks wear purple numbers that are almost as dark as their black jerseys in training camp, it’s not hard to differentiate Joe Flacco from the rest of the group.

Flacco steps to the line of scrimmage with a commanding cadence and the thump of his passes hitting the receivers’ hands can be heard across the practice field.

Now in his eighth season, Flacco has performed almost flawlessly, leading to expectations that he could have a Pro Bowl-caliber season.

Flacco’s development has been especially impressive since he has played under four offensive coordinators in the past four years.

Last year, Flacco flourished under then-offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, throwing for a career-high 3,986 yards and 27 touchdown passes.

Kubiak left to take the head coaching job in Denver, opening the door for Marc Trestman to take over the offensive play-calling in Baltimore.

The transition has been almost seamless as Flacco has not had any trouble meshing with Trestman, underscored by the quarterback’s performance in the first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.

“I really feel good about it,” Flacco said about the offense. “Obviously, we need to keep going to work and make sure we continue to do it.”

Flacco played only one series against New Orleans and completed five of six passes for 33 yards in the West Coast offense. He also orchestrated a 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a one-yard run by Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Flacco also had a 17-yard scramble on a third-and-seven.

“You really want to do well because you’re not playing that many reps and you need to make the most of them,” Flacco said. “It was a great way for us to start off the game, to have a good solid drive with everybody in there and feel good about it.

“Now, we need to get back to practice and continue what we have been building.”

The key now is to keep improving.

The Ravens have a young, but talented, group of wide receivers. Last season, the Ravens’ offense also had their most prolific offense, setting franchise records with 409 points scored and 5,838 total yards.

The offense will look to another step forward this year.

–The Ravens have been dealing with several injuries on the defensive line, which forced some players to line up into the fourth quarter in the first preseason game against New Orleans.

Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and defensive ends Chris Canty and DeAngelo Tyson were all held out of the game.

This put Lawrence Guy and Carl Davis into the starting lineup. Because of the lack of depth, Davis and Guy played most of the game.

That was a gamble because Baltimore cannot afford any more injuries on the defensive line. However, Ravens coach John Harbaugh is not too worried about the overall health of the unit this early in camp.

“We feel like our defense has a lot of depth,” Harbaugh said. “The defensive line, those guys like Lawrence, Carl; those guys are great. They were asked to step up and play the whole game and they did a great job.”

Davis made an impressive one-armed tackle on Saints running back Tim Hightower for a loss midway through the third quarter, which was indicative of his overall play so far. He will have the opportunity to be a major contributor this season.

“They drafted me here for a reason and that’s to make plays. I’m just trying to be that person,” Davis said. “I just went out there and tried to do the best I could.”

–Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has been animated at times on the practice field, introspective with the media and an almost constant presence with his players.

Since he took for Gary Kubiak, Trestman has insisted there was no need to overhaul the offense. He simply needed to implement some new plays and build on the Ravens’ strength.

So far, that strategy has proven to be a model of success. In Trestman’s debut, Baltimore scored on its first three drives in a preseason game against the Saints, and the players showed little trouble executing the game plan.

“I thought Marc did a really interesting job of the way he called the plays,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It was all based off the run game and a lot of play passes, and things like that. The biggest thing I noticed was execution. I thought we executed well. We weren’t gashing them for any big runs.”

The Ravens’ first- and second-team offense moved the ball up and down the field against New Orleans.

Trestman and Co. will look to take even more steps when they travel to Philadelphia for joint practices Aug. 19-21 with the Eagles before their Aug. 22 game at Lincoln Financial Field.

–Cornerback Asa Jackson injured a knee in the first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints and did not return. He was still out when the Ravens resumed practice Aug. 15.

This is disconcerting news to the Ravens, who had six different starting cornerbacks in 13 games last season because of injuries. Jackson is also expected to challenge to be the primary kick and punt returner.

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