Ravens putting extra focus on youth in preseason opener

August 09, 2016 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after declining to say whether Joe Flacco would play in Thursday’s preseason opener, Ravens coach John Harbaugh all but ruled his quarterback out against Carolina.

And why would he want to force the issue with Flacco not missing as much as a single rep in training camp after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery in his left knee just eight months ago? The ninth-year quarterback likely won’t be the only healthy veteran held out of the first preseason game with the focus clearly being placed on Baltimore’s youth.

“I think everybody can figure out what’s going to happen,” Harbaugh said. “I just don’t want to get into everybody. I don’t want to be talking about who’s going to play and who’s not going to play. It’s going to be the young guys [playing]. It’s going to be the guys that need to play in this game that we want to find out about.

“Anybody that has a health issue or anything like that is not even going to be thinking about playing. It’s just going to be one of those kinds of camp games that we learn about our young guys.”

Harbaugh isn’t ruling out the possibility of left tackle Ronnie Stanley playing against the Panthers after he returned to the practice field on Tuesday.

However, the 2016 first-round pick’s uncertain status certainly makes for an easier decision to sit Flacco if there were any lingering doubts about doing so. Stanley only missed one full workout after suffering a “soft tissue” injury over the weekend.

“He wanted to be out there,” Harbaugh said. “I think he said right after [Saturday’s practice], ‘It’s nothing.’ I don’t know if anything is nothing, physically, in this league, but we’ll see if he can play Thursday night with how it feels out there and everything. It probably is a game-time decision.”

Stanley wasn’t the only player to return to the field on Tuesday as rookie cornerback Maurice Canady and tight end Daniel Brown were also participating. Brown’s presence was surprising after he took a vicious hit to the upper body that left him groggy and forced him out of Monday’s practice.

The Ravens were still without 12 members of their 90-man roster on Tuesday as wide receivers Chris Moore, Chris Matthews, and Michael Campanaro, tight ends Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams, and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi were sidelined. Wide receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro remain on the physically unable to perform list and have yet to practice this summer.

The extensive list of ailments likely prompted Harbaugh to use a walk-through practice format two full days before a game, an unusual measure.

“We’ve had some really good practices, some really physical practices,” Harbaugh said. “This is an opportunity for us to recover a little bit from that and get ready for Thursday night and just focus on attention to detail. We emphasize technique and communication. We want our guys to exaggerate technique and exaggerate communication in this setting to build muscle memory in the way we play.”