Har­baugh won’t let this one slide

Flacco’s awk­ward tech­nique at end of runs puts re­paired knee at risk, coach says

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Ed­ward Lee ed­ward.lee@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­wardLeeSun

John Har­baugh has Joe Flacco’s back on al­most ev­ery oc­ca­sion. But if there is one area in which the Ravens coach and quar­ter­back don’t see eye to eye, it’s Flacco’s slid­ing abil­ity.

For the sec­ond time in four games, Flacco fin­ished a nice scram­ble with an awk­ward slide on the brace pro­tect­ing his sur­gi­cally re­paired left knee. In a vic­tory against the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers on Nov. 6, Flacco hopped off the field on his right foot to re­place the brace and had to miss three plays. In Sun­day’s 19-14 win against the Cincin­nati Ben­gals, he ad­justed his brace quickly and didn’t miss any game time.

On Mon­day, Har­baugh made clear his stance on Flacco’s slides.

“You don’t slide on your knee,” he said. “He and I have had that con­ver­sa­tion. He can be mad at me now be­cause I said it pub­licly. We all played base­ball. He wants to talk about a pop-up slide. Maybe that’s what he did in high school. But you can’t do a pop-up slide on a knee brace. It’s just as sim­ple as that. You’ve got to get down there on those glutes. That’s what’s got to hap­pen. It’s not the first time he’s heard that.”

Flacco smoothly slid on his butt in a 28-7 vic­tory over the Cleve­land Browns on Nov. 10, sug­gest­ing he had learned how not to put a scare into his fam­ily mem­bers, team­mates and fans. Af­ter Sun­day’s game, he ac­knowl­edged that he had re­turned to his ear­lier form.

“In this game, I’m run­ning, and I was look­ing for a hole to crawl into, and you just get down as quickly as you can, and my nat­u­ral slide comes up where I’m just kind of slid­ing on my knee and my shin and just want to get down quick,” Flacco said. “So I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to have to deal with it for a while un­til I can, like, re­train my­self to slide on my right side or get on my butt. I don’t want to start div­ing head-first and do­ing all that stuff be­cause then you can fum­ble, and they can hit you and all that stuff. It’s just some­thing I’m go­ing to have deal with and get a lit­tle bit bet­ter at.” Ex-Raven ail­ing: Har­baugh opened his Mon­day news con­fer­ence by an­nounc­ing that for­mer tight end Kon­rad Reu­land, 29, is in the in­ten­sive care unit at UCLA Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les be­cause of a brain aneurysm.

“Just want to ask re­ally for some prayers for Kon­rad Reu­land,” Har­baugh said. “He was put into the UCLA Med­i­cal Cen­ter in­ten­sive care unit to­day. He had an Joe Flacco, scram­bling from the Ben­gals’ Kar­los Dansby for 16 yards Sun­day, has been us­ing a base­ball-type pop-up slide at the end of his runs. Safety Eric Wed­dle, left, had a chance to tie C.J. Mosley, right, for the team lead in in­ter­cep­tions but dropped one Sun­day. aneurysm in his brain, and he’s go­ing to un­dergo surgery [to­day]. So he’s in in­ten­sive care to­day and tonight. So we just ask that you re­mem­ber him in your prayers. Kon­rad Reu­land, tremen­dous guy, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his fam­ily tonight and to­mor­row for the surgery.”

From 2014 to 2015, Reu­land was signed to the prac­tice squad three times be­fore be­ing pro­moted to the ac­tive ros­ter Dec. 8, 2015. He was re­leased by the team May 3. Wed­dle blames him­self: Strong safety Eric Wed­dle had a chance to tie in­side line­backer C.J. Mosley for the team lead in in­ter­cep­tions, with three, but Wed­dle dropped a deep pass from Ben­gals quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton in­tended for wide re­ceiver James Wright in the first quar­ter Sun­day.

Wed­dle, whose 21 ca­reer in­ter­cep­tions rank sev­enth among ac­tive safeties, chas­tised him­self for the miss.

“I tell guys ev­ery day, ‘Don’t catch with your chest!’ That’s what hap­pens,” said Wed­dle. “And what do you do? Freak­ing loser is what I am.”

Wed­dle said he was con­tem­plat­ing where to run with the in­ter­cep­tion be­fore ac­tu­ally mak­ing the grab. “You’re al­ways think­ing you’re go­ing to score. Stupid,” he said. “It’s all right. Just got to get hum­bled a lit­tle bit and make you work harder.” Boyle’s back: Tight end Nick Boyle did not make a catch in Sun­day’s win, but he did make a few blocks in his 20 of­fen­sive snaps, and was in for 13 more plays on spe­cial teams.

It was Boyle’s first ap­pear­ance of the sea­son since serv­ing a 10-game sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing the league’s pol­icy on per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs for the sec­ond time. He ac­knowl­edged that he “had a few more but­ter­flies” than he had for pre­vi­ous games.

“It was a lit­tle sur­real run­ning back out again be­cause it’s been a long time. But it was awe­some,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously, it’s awe­some when you win. Ev­ery­one’s happy, and it felt great. I’ve got some things to still work on, but I thought it was a great start.” End zone: Har­baugh said cor­ner­back Jimmy Smith, who has sat out the past two games be­cause of a back in­jury, has made progress in his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. “I was hope­ful he would get back,” Har­baugh said, re­fer­ring to Sun­day’s game. “He ran again on Satur­day. We tried to see how well he ran on the ground. It was bet­ter, but it wasn’t good enough to play. So that’s where we’re at.” … Har­baugh said the de­ci­sion to de­ac­ti­vate out­side line­backer Za’Dar­ius Smith, who had started in four of five games be­fore Sun­day, was be­cause his po­si­tion is crowded with Ter­rell Suggs, Al­bert McClel­lan, Elvis Dumervil and rookie Matthew Judon. “It’s re­ally not so much about Za’Dar­ius Smith and what he was or wasn’t do­ing,” Har­baugh said. “It’s more about the fact that we had to have a cer­tain num­ber of guys up in cer­tain spots to play po­si­tions. We have five out­side back­ers. It’s hard to get five out­side ’back­ers up.” … Af­ter mak­ing his sec­ond straight start at left guard, Mar­shal Yanda ac­knowl­edged that he some­times finds him­self mov­ing to his usual right guard spot, where he has earned five Pro Bowl in­vi­ta­tions. “It still doesn’t feel right,” he said. “I still line up on the wrong side when I go out there. [Cen­ter Jeremy Zut­tah] has to put me on the left side be­cause I just nat­u­rally go to his right. But in the end, it keeps me play­ing foot­ball, and that’s what I want to do.” … Mi­ami Dol­phins coach Adam Gase said cen­ter Mike Pouncey (hip) is “prob­a­bly not ready yet” to re­turn for Sun­day’s game. The out­look for left tackle Bran­den Al­bert (dis­lo­cated wrist) and left guard Laremy Tun­sil (shoul­der), two other of­fen­sive line­men who sat out Sun­day’s 31-24 win against the San Fran­cisco 49ers, is also un­clear.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

PA­TRICK SMITH/GETTY IMAGES

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