Birds of a Feather?

Ravens ex­plor­ing pos­si­bil­ity of adding Kaeper­nick

The Star Democrat - - SPORTS -

(TNS) — With starter Joe Flacco side­lined for at least a week with a disc is­sue in his back, the Ravens are ex­plor­ing sign­ing for­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick.

Fol­low­ing the team’s first full­squad prac­tice of train­ing camp Thurs­day, Ravens coach John Har­baugh brought up Kaeper­nick be­fore even be­ing asked about the free-agent quar­ter­back.

It’s an ob­vi­ous con­nec­tion given that Kaeper­nick played his best foot­ball in San Fran­cisco un­der Jim Har­baugh, John’s brother, and for­mer 49ers of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Greg Ro­man. Ro­man is now a se­nior of­fen­sive as­sis­tant and tight ends coach for the Ravens.

“I’ve known Colin re­ally through my brother for many years and we’ve talked,” John Har­baugh said. “I got to know him re­ally well when they scrim­maged here [in 2014]. He and I have been talk­ing through­out the sum­mer, a num­ber of times. We’ve had some great con­ver­sa­tions on the phone. It’s re­ally been a plea­sure to talk to him and get to know him. I like his­tory and pol­i­tics and stuff, too, and we’ve had some de­bates. It’s been fun. He’s a great guy. He’s a guy right now that’s be­ing talked about and we’ll just see what hap­pens with that. I think it will all be spec­u­la­tion right now but I think he’s a re­ally good foot­ball player. As I said at the own­ers

meet­ings, I do be­lieve he’ll be play­ing in the Na­tional Foot­ball League this year.”

Asked later about Kaeper­nick, Har­baugh said, “I wouldn’t rule it out at all. He’s a re­ally good foot­ball player.”

The Ravens cur­rently have only two healthy quar­ter­backs on their ros­ter: Vet­eran Ryan Mal­lett and Dustin Vaughan. Dur­ing one drill Thurs­day, of­fen­sive as­sis­tant Matt Weiss stood in as the quar­ter­back be­cause Mal­lett and Vaughan were needed on other parts of the field.

Just a few years ago, Kaeper­nick was con­sid­ered one of the most dy­namic young tal­ents in the NFL, a re­al­ity the Ravens ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand in Su­per Bowl XLVII, dur­ing which he passed for 302 yards, rushed for 62 and nearly led the 49ers to a re­mark­able come­back.

But his per­for­mance fell off sharply in 2015 — and he be­came one of the most po­lar­iz­ing ath­letes in the coun­try last year when he be­gan de­clin­ing to stand for the pregame na­tional an­them.

Af­ter the 49ers let him go, Kaeper­nick is be­lieved to have had only one work­out, with the Seat­tle Sea­hawks, and he wasn’t signed. That has led to de­bates around the league about whether Kaeper­nick is be­ing black­balled for his so­cial ac­tivism.

“I be­lieve he’s a re­ally good per­son,” Har­baugh said. “It de­pends on a lot of things. It de­pends on Colin first of all, what he wants to do, what’s his pas­sion, what’s his pri­or­ity, what does he want to do, what kind of shape is he in. Is he ready to go? Then, our needs, and we’ll just kind of see where it goes. I don’t

think it’s dif­fer­ent for us than any other team. We’re def­i­nitely go­ing to get an­other arm in here, but he’s not an arm, ob­vi­ously. He’s an ac­com­plished foot­ball player. You al­ways like hav­ing good foot­ball play­ers.”

Har­baugh re­it­er­ated that the Ravens ex­pect Flacco to miss about a week of train­ing camp, but he said the team isn’t wor­ried about the long­time starter’s long-term avail­abil­ity.

“We found out yes­ter­day,” Har­baugh said. “I guess it’s been some­thing that’s been both­er­ing him for a week or two. He didn’t say any­thing about it. It wasn’t re­ally that bad. It flared up a lit­tle bit and he went and saw the back spe­cial­ist. They are rec­om­mend­ing about a week of rest. They say that should take care of it. I guess with the back, you can al­ways say, ‘We’ll see.’ But all in­di­ca­tions from the back spe­cial­ist, Dr. [John] Car­bone, are that he should be fine in about a week. That’s what we’ll be hop­ing for and pray­ing for.”

Asked later if the Ravens were con­cerned that Flacco could miss some time dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, Har­baugh said: “Noth­ing like that. We’ll be ready for ev­ery­thing. It’s not just Joe, it’s every sin­gle po­si­tion. You want to build as much in­sur­ance in your ros­ter as you pos­si­bly can at every spot, quar­ter­back no less. But ev­ery­thing looks fine with Joe. I’m not a doc­tor and I don’t think any­body knows for sure what could hap­pen. Any­body could get hurt out here at any time. But tak­ing the pre­cau­tion, I think Joe with a week of rest here is not go­ing to hurt our of­fense. It might help our of­fense in terms of de­vel­op­ing some other guys. I’d rather go that route than go the other route.”

CUR­TIS COMPTON/TNS

At­lanta Fal­cons quar­ter­back Matt Ryan gives San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick a hug af­ter a 41-13 vic­tory over the 49ers on Sun­day, Dec. 18, 2016, in At­lanta, Ga. The Bal­ti­more Ravens are ex­plor­ing sign­ing for­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Kaeper­nick.

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