OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hasn’t given much thought to enduring his first, big hit.
After missing more than a month with an ailing back, Flacco is combining all of training camp and four preseason games into one week of practice.
As a result, there is simply no time to worry about aggravating the injury if absorbs a sack in the regular season-opener Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I’m going to be as confident as ever taking the field," Flacco said. "I’m not going to think any differently. It’s not been ideal because we have some new guys out there and some new things that we’re doing, and I haven’t had as many reps.
"As far as how I approach the game and how I feel like we’re going to go out there and play, I’ve played plenty of football games. I’m just going to make the most of what we have over the next this next and next few days before the game."
Flacco doesn’t know how he endured the injury. He was told by a spine specialist the back problem could have been building over time. Flacco felt some tightness when he reported to training camp in July, but he could not pinpoint an exact timeline for the injury.
However, Flacco said the back should not give him any further problems because of the amount of time he let the injury heal. Flacco called the layoff a "very long, boring break."
"You can go crazy that’s for sure, watching the guys practice," he said. "It was tough."
Second-string quarterback Ryan Mallett ran the offence during Flacco’s absence, helping Baltimore go 4-0 in the preseason. Still, the Ravens are trying to end a two-year playoff drought and the key to any success runs through Flacco.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed how Flacco performed in his first practice Saturday. Harbaugh is also encouraged by the long-term prognosis with the back.
"He was good," Harbaugh said. "He looked sharp. There were no setbacks at all. He’s ready to roll."
Flacco is entering his 10th NFL season and has thrown for 32,639 yards with 182 touchdowns and 117 interceptions over his career. He led the Ravens to the playoffs six times and was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII.
As a result, fellow players don’t think the time off will have much of a long-term impact on him. Still, there might be some inevitable rust when he takes the field Sunday against the Bengals.
"You want as much practice time as you can, but I also think a guy like him has played a ton and understands what he needs to do," Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said. "It makes that transition easier with not practicing. But obviously, I think you’d want as much time in practice as you can."
Flacco spent time throwing to two of his top receivers — Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman — in the OTAs earlier in the spring. However, he has not practiced much with Jeremy Maclin, who was signed in June after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Flacco is hoping their experience and talent will make up for the lack of reps together.
"Jeremy is a good player and he knows how to get open," Flacco said. "Things might not be perfect right now. But if he gets open, then I should be able to put the ball on him. We’ve been doing that since we were six years old. So, you have to go back to the basics with things. You can’t think too much."