The Ravens are counting down to Thursday’s preseason opener knowing franchise quarterback Joe Flacco will not play against the Washington Redskins.
Head coach John Harbaugh says he’s still not sure when the 10th-year veteran will even take the practice field after missing the first nine full-team workouts of training camp with a back injury. His absence has left backup Ryan Mallett to run the first-team offense while the discussion has persisted about free agent Colin Kaepernick.
“We just do not know the time frame. They have not given us a time frame yet,” Harbaugh said in Annapolis Saturday night. “We know he is getting better every single day. Obviously, we have a plan for him, football-wise, when he gets back, but we haven’t been told when yet.”
The Ravens had hoped that Flacco might only miss one week of practice, but that was always the best-case scenario as they’re being cautious with the start of the season still five weeks away. If he doesn’t return to the field this week, it would be difficult envisioning him playing in the second preseason game at Miami on Aug. 17.
Flacco isn’t the only notable starter currently sidelined, however, as cornerback Jimmy Smith missed his third consecutive practice on Saturday. First-round rookie Marlon Humphrey has also missed three straight workouts with an undisclosed ailment, but he was seen doing some agility work on the sideline at the Naval Academy, leaving one to believe he isn’t far away from a return.
Smith’s return to practice is apparently imminent, which is good news for a player with a frustrating history of injuries.
“Jimmy just [has] a little tweak in there,” said Harbaugh, refraining from specifying the location. “I decided to keep him off the turf today, and I actually held him out [Friday], too. He should be back Monday.”
Harbaugh also appeared to take a conservative approach with veterans Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle, and Jeremy Maclin, who all sat out the practice at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium after practicing without incident on Friday. Cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz was also a new absentee on Saturday.
Newly-signed right tackle Austin Howard was not with the team for Saturday’s practice, but he is likely to be on the field when the team reconvenes Monday morning in Owings Mills. The 30-year-old spent part of the 2011 season on Baltimore’s practice squad before being signed by the New York Jets, an interesting footnote as he was inked to a three-year, $16 million deal on Friday
“We were disappointed to lose him; I remember it well when we lost him,” Harbaugh said. “We wanted to keep him at the time, too, and that is how it works in this league. He did a great job, but a lot of times guys like to come back to Baltimore. They get out and see that this was a pretty good place.”
Others remaining sidelined Saturday included wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring), Kenny Bell (hamstring), and Chris Matthews (undisclosed), guard Alex Lewis (undisclosed), and cornerbacks Sheldon Price (undisclosed) and Maurice Canady (knee).
Tight end Larry Donnell returned to practice after hurting his hand on Thursday.
As expected, tight end Crockett Gillmore (knee) cleared waivers Saturday and reverted to injured reserve. He will no longer count against the 90-man roster limit and is in the final season of his four-year rookie contract signed in 2014.