After another uneven performance by backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and the starting offense in a 31-7 preseason win over Miami, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Joe Flacco isn’t expected to return to practice this week.
The 10th-year quarterback has been sidelined with a back injury since the start of training camp and will not play in the preseason, but the team said in a release last week that “the plan” is for Flacco to be ready for the Sept. 10 opener in Cincinnati. He will now have no more than two weeks of practice time to get ready for Week 1.
“I don’t think that time frame is this week yet,” Harbaugh told reporters after Thursday’s game. “So, we’ll kind of stick with the plan on that. I think it’s a straightforward date that the doctors and the back specialists have given us, so we’re going to stick with that.”
The original hope was that Flacco would only miss a week of practice with a back issue he revealed to team officials upon reporting for the start of camp on July 26. The organization said from the start that caution would be exercised with a 32-year-old quarterback who has missed just six games in his first nine seasons and has rarely ever sat out practices in his career.
Mallett improved somewhat from the first preseason game by completing 13 of 22 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown to reserve tight end Larry Donnell, but he was also intercepted twice and again struggled to push the ball down the field with confidence. His struggles this summer have led many to continue clamoring for Baltimore to sign polarizing quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Ravens were also missing their two best offensive linemen against the Dolphins on Thursday as six-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and 2016 first-round left tackle Ronnie Stanley sat out, leaving Mallett to be protected by a starting line consisting of four former undrafted free agents.
“I thought he did good. He got out of trouble a few times. He made a few throws,” Harbaugh said. “I think we just keep working to build off that. He was under pressure quite a bit early on, and I thought he handled it well and didn’t make mistakes. That’s really important. He played good, solid football.
“We’re not totally together upfront right now, and I think he’s doing OK given the circumstances.”