Ravens’ Mal­lett to play ‘ex­ten­sively’ in Red­skins pre­sea­son opener.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW PARAS

OWINGS MILLS, MD. | Be­fore the start of his Mon­day press con­fer­ence, Ravens coach John Har­baugh ex­changed pleas­antries with former Red­skins great Joe Theis­mann, who was on hand to watch the Ravens prac­tice ahead of Thurs­day’s pre­sea­son game against the Red­skins.

The two shared a laugh, and if the long-re­tired Theis­mann could still play a lit­tle, Har­baugh cer­tainly could have used the ex­tra arm.

The Ravens have been with­out starter Joe Flacco be­cause of a back in­jury for the en­tire train­ing camp and backup Ryan Mal­lett has been tak­ing all of his snaps.

De­spite Flacco’s in­jury, which does not have a timetable, Har­baugh said Mal­lett will play “pretty ex­ten­sively” against the Red­skins.

“How much that ends up be­ing prob­a­bly will be de­ter­mined,” Har­baugh said. “We’ll have a plan . ... It’s an op­por­tu­nity for Ryan to get ready. I think that’s some­thing that he’s had that chance be­fore. Last year in the off­sea­son, be­fore Joe got back to train­ing camp, those reps were re­ally huge for a quar­ter­back. So he’ll want to make the most of those reps with the 1’s and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Mal­lett is en­ter­ing his third year with the Ravens af­ter spend­ing two years each with the Hous­ton Tex­ans and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots. With the Ravens, Mal­lett has rarely seen ex­ten­sive ac­tion on the field, ex­cept for two games dur­ing the 2015 sea­son when Flacco and backup Matt Schaub were both out with in­juries. He threw six passes in 2016.

The 29-year-old, though, has had an un­even camp and the Ravens have dis­cussed sign­ing Colin Kaeper­nick to add an­other quar­ter­back in Flacco’s ab­sence. The Ravens signed jour­ney­man Josh Woodrum for a camp arm last week.

Mal­lett said he’s got “tun­nel vi­sion” when it comes to his role and is fo­cused on im­prov­ing ev­ery­day.

“I al­ways pre­pare if I was start­ing,” Mal­lett said. “To me, that’s the only way you can do it if you want to be suc­cess­ful any­way.”

Har­baugh gave no up­date to Flacco’s sta­tus on Mon­day. ESPN re­ported, how­ever, Flacco re­ceived a sec­ond opin­ion on his in­jured back and the re­sult was “pos­i­tive for a slow re­turn.”

The Ravens want Flacco to re­turn, but are be­ing cau­tious.

“I want him here yes­ter­day,” Har­baugh said. “I want him here a week ago. I want him here the first day. So as soon as he’s ready to go, we’ll go to work to get him ready. I don’t think it’s go­ing to be a prob­lem. Joe knows the of­fense.

“But still, there’s a rhythm, chem­istry and tim­ing and ex­e­cu­tion that re­ally prac­tice is valu­able for. So the sooner the bet­ter. But not be­fore he’s ready.”

Bal­ti­more’s in­jury sit­u­a­tion goes far be­yond Flacco. They’ve lost run­ning back Ken­neth Dixon, cor­ner­back Tavon Young, tight end Crock­ett Gil­more and rookie guard Nico Si­ra­gusa for the sea­son with in­juries. They also re­leased tight end Den­nis Pitta in June af­ter he suf­fered his third hip in­jury.

But NFL play­ers like to tout the “next man up” mantra and the show goes on. Run­ning back Ter­rance West, who was the Ravens’ start­ing run­ning back last year and looks to take over the role again af­ter Dixon’s knee in­jury, said he’s ea­ger to fi­nally play in a game.

“I can’t wait, man,” West said. “Prac­tice is hard. The game is easy. I can’t wait for Thurs­day, get a few plays in there. Might bust a long one, so I’m ex­cited.”

The Ravens and the Red­skins play Thurs­day at 7:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Sta­dium in Bal­ti­more.

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