Flacco not 100 percent, but has no limitations
OWINGS MILLS — The numbers weren’t overwhelming, but there was still plenty of good news surrounding Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco following the season opener.
“The best part about it is that he helped us win the game,” Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. “The second best part about it was that he got through it with no harm. He’s good and he’s ready to practice and ready to go.”
Flacco took the field Sunday after missing all of training camp and preseason with a back injury. He returned to practice only eight days before the Ravens traveled to Cincinnati to shut out the Bengals, 20-0.
His stats won’t blow anyone away, but Flacco played well enough. He led an offense that kept the football on the ground throughout the second half to eat clock and protect a large lead.
“We only threw the ball 15 times, so you’re not going to get a lot [of downfield pass attempts],” Flacco said. “That’s kind of what we gave ourselves in the first half there, we afforded ourselves the ability to come out in the second hand and run the ball and establish our physical game.”
The Ravens actually threw the ball 17 times, with Flacco completing nine of those attempts for 121 yards. He threw one interception and hit wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for a 48-yard touchdown pass.
Late in the game, Baltimore considered taking a shot down the field as the Bengals packed the box defensively, anticipated more run plays. Flacco advocated against it – a rare situation for a big-armed quarterback to oppose throwing the ball deep.
“It’s all about winning football games. When you’re playing in those types of games, sometimes you kind of lose track of that,” he said. “If we’re going to win a bunch of football games, we’re going to need to do it a handful of different ways over the course of the season.”
The dominant defensive performance was a perfect scenario for a quarterback returning from injury. Flacco’s low number of pass attempts limited the number of hits he had to take, though he did receive a few hard shots – one that even required him to be tested for signs of a concussion. He never threw more than 20 yards down field, eliminated the torquing of his back required to throw the ball deep.
Flacco said Sunday he left the game healthy and reiterated it Wednesday. He did not claim to be 100 percent, but added that he’ll have no physical restraints when the Cleveland Browns come to town this weekend.
“I have no limitations on Sunday when it comes to throwing the football or moving around,” he said. “Obviously, after the game, your adrenaline’s going and you feel good, but I definitely was very happy with how I woke up the next day.
“I feel like I came out of the game great and am just getting better and better.”
Flacco said he wore his normal game-day gear in Cincinnati, without anything extra to protect his lower back.
Sitting out for an entire training camp was not the start Flacco or Harbaugh wanted for the season, but both acknowledged that it proved to be the right decision.
“Like I said before, if it was the regular season or the Super Bowl or anything like that, then yeah, I would be getting myself ready to play,” Flacco said. “It would then turn into something I’d be dealing with the entire year and I would never be 100 percent. To get myself back to 100 percent, what was the best plan for that? You come to realize the best thing is to not play in the preseason, while it’s not ideal.”
It was the best decision, but not the one his coach would have made.
“My plan would’ve been to have the quarterback practice all through training camp, but I think the doctors and the trainers did a great job,” Harbaugh said. “Joe did a great job, that was the target and he made it.”
OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens have placed running back Danny Woodhead on injured reserve and promoted running back Jeremy Langford from the practice squad Thursday.
Head coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday that Woodhead would miss at least a month with a hamstring injury suffered in the season opener against the Bengals.
Langford was cut by the Chicago Bears prior to the start of the season. Multiple teams reached out to him about joining the practice squads, but he opted to sign with Baltimore on Sept. 4.
“I just like the opportunity. I felt like it was a good spot for me, as far as running the ball,” Langford said Wednesday, one day before he was promoted to the 53-man roster. “And they play the Bears, too, so that helped. I think it is a good opportunity for me – a chance to get on the field.”
Langford began last season as Chi- cago’s starting running back, but suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 and never regained the job. He ran for 200 yards and four touchdowns and caught 190 passes for 142 yards in 2016.
The Bears drafted Langford in the fourth round in 2014.
“Getting drafted, you don’t really expect to go in there – especially after cut day – and get released. It’s extra motivation and it’s sort of the business of the game,” he said. “You can always get cut, so continue to work hard and it will all work out.”
New rules this season allow teams to bring two players back from injured reserve. In previous seasons, NFL squads could designate one player to return from injured reserve.
Woodhead would be eligible to return on Nov. 19 against the Green Bay Packers if the Ravens choose to activate him. Second-year cornerback Maurice Canady is another likely candidate to return from IR when eligible.
“We will just have to see how Ozzie [Newsome] wants to handle it, in terms of the roster and things like that,” Harbaugh said.
On Sunday, while Woodhead was the Ravens’ best offensive player early on, rush linebacker Za’Darius Smith was a strong candidate to earn that praise on the opposite side of the ball. He sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton before leaving the game in obvious pain with a knee injury.
Harbaugh said the it didn’t prove to be as serious as feared.
“Za’Darius didn’t turn out to be that serious,” Harbaugh said. “Man, it was a painful one. On the field, I wanted to give him a leather strap and a shot of whiskey just to deal with the pain and to get him off the field. But, he came through it OK. I do not know if he will be up for this week, but he will have a chance next week.”
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) attempts a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.