OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Taking the practice field less than 48 hours after injuring his left knee in the Ravens’ 18-16 win over Detroit, quarterback Joe Flacco was present in what was little more than a walk-through on Wednesday afternoon.
Sporting a brace underneath his pants, Flacco played catch and wasn’t moving with a noticeable limp during the media viewing portion of practice, but none of the Baltimore quarterbacks were doing much in the first 30 minutes of a workout that didn’t include helmets. Flacco is expected take it easy over the next couple days, but he isn’t considered to be in any danger of missing Sunday’s contest against the New England Patriots.
A magnetic resonance imaging test revealed a mild MCL sprain in Flacco’s left knee, according to an ESPN report.
“He went through practice today on a limited basis, and we listed him as limited today,” said coach John Harbaugh, who acknowledged cringing when he saw the replay of the helmet shot delivered to Flacco’s knee by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. “We’ll just take it the rest of the week on a day-by-day basis, but we do anticipate that he will play. We’ll see where we’ll go from there.”
Flacco described the brace as “a little bit” uncomfortable, but he confirmed that he will wear it during Sunday’s game whether he needs to or not to prevent further injury. He has experienced stiffness and swelling since hurting the knee midway through the fourth quarter Monday night, but the knee is getting better, according to the quarterback.
The sixth-year signal-caller admitted he was initially scared when he was hit and hesitated to get up in fear of there something being seriously wrong with the knee. Sunday will mark the first time Flacco has worn a knee brace during an NFL game, but the University of Delaware product said he wore one on his left knee during his junior year after suffering an injury to his medial collateral ligament.
“I got up and I put a little pressure on it and was able to run off the field and all that,” Flacco said. “You’ve got to feel pretty good about that. You’re able to go back out there and do everything. My mind was at ease as soon as I got up, so that wasn’t that big of an issue.”
There is little doubt that Flacco will play on Sunday, but how effectively he can move around remains to be seen with the viewing portions of practice unlikely to reveal anything of real substance this week. Recently, Flacco has shown a willingness to not only take off and gain yards on the ground but to escape pressure in the pocket to extend plays and make throws downfield.
Flacco has never missed a game in his professional career — making 107 starts including postseason games — and has the third-longest consecutive games played streak among active quarterbacks, trailing only New York’s Eli Manning and San Diego’s Philip Rivers. His durability is considered one of his biggest strengths and has allowed the Ravens not to feel the need to invest heavily in a backup quarterback in recent years.
“That is one of the first things you think about when you get hit there and you go down,” Flacco said. “You’re like, ‘Shoot, I better not be able to not be able to play.’ I’m definitely very proud of that. At some point, it may happen that I can’t go out there and start a football game, but we’re going to try to hold that off for a while.”
Though he was present on the practice field while the Ravens worked indoors, running back Ray Rice was listed as a non-participant for Wednesday’s workout with a thigh injury. He rushed for 56 yards on 12 carries against Detroit, which represent his second-highest yards per carry average (4.7) this season.
Rice did not appear to be in serious pain after Monday’s game or during practice and could have simply received a day off on Wednesday as the Ravens periodically do with veteran players. His mere presence on the field is a good indication that his injury is unlikely to be serious.
Tight end Dallas Clark (illness), linebacker Albert McClellan (neck), and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) were also absent from Wednesday’s practice, but only Jackson came away with a reported injury from the win over the Lions. Clark was active for Monday’s game but did not play at all.
Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle) was present and working during Wednesday’s practice after returning to action in Week 15 and playing 33 of 65 defensive snaps.
The Patriots were without starting left tackle Nate Solder (concussion) during their Wednesday practice as the starting lineman is once again dealing with a concussion.
As is typically the case, New England head coach Bill Belichick listed a number of players as limited participants, including quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder), wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin), cornerback Aqib Talib (hip), and wide receivers Aaron Dobson (foot) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip).
Here is Wednesday’s official injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Dallas Clark (illness), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (neck), RB Ray Rice (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: QB Joe Flacco (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Josh Boyce (ankle), T Nate Solder (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Danny Amendola (groin), CB Kyle Arrington (groin), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), S Steve Gregory (finger), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Will Svitek (ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)