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Flacco's Back


Sitting at home in Audubon, N.J. for the past month, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco had a very limited stable of receivers to practice with as he attempted to ingest the Ravens' playbook.

An agreement between the NFL and NCAA kept the first-round draft pick away from Ravens headquarters until his alma mater, the University of Delaware, finished its semester.

So, without Derrick Mason or Todd Heap to run routes, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound gunslinger set his father and brother up on the practice field.

Of course, the elder Flacco wasn't necessarily asked to run routes.

"He's getting a little old, so we would kind of just place him in an area," Joe Flacco said after Wednesday's Organized Team Activity (OTA).

Such family bonding may not translate perfectly to the professional level, but it was probably the best way to bring the Xs and Os to a three-dimensional level.

"I tried to place them in places where the routes would be and go through my dropbacks and throw to them," Flacco explained. "I tried to get my workouts in and make sure I'm in shape, and I got my head in the playbook and tried to learn as much as possible without having the coaches around and being able to sit down and watch film with them."

The Ravens are not concerned with the time Flacco missed. Instead, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron plans to bring the quarterback along slowly, initially offering Flacco plays that he ran at Division I-AA Delaware before adding to the workload.

"What we try to do is take whatever plays in our system off the plays the guy ran in college," said Cameron. "We've always done that with young quarterbacks so they really don't have to perform and learn at the same time as much.

"A lot of the stuff he's doing he should be able to perform at a high level because it's stuff he's done in college. Once he gets his feet on the ground and starts to learn NFL defenses, starts to grasp our defenses, then we start demanding more of him in terms of what we want to do different than what he did in college."

In his first set of practices with the team since a three-day mandatory minicamp May 9-11, Flacco got about 25 percent of the reps under center, sharing duties with Troy Smith and Kyle Boller.

The young quarterback displayed his powerful and accurate arm, throwing a pinpoint bomb to wideout Yamon Figurs down the left sideline that the receiver just missed on the first play of a two-minute drill.

Later, he threaded a 25-yard dart through two defensive backs to fellow rookie Marcus Smith over the middle.

"I feel a lot better this time around than I did in the minicamp," he said. "The minicamp they threw a lot at us and it got to a certain point where I was like, 'Whew, what's going on?' Right now they're kind of installing it a little slower for us, and I think I'm really benefiting from it."

Flacco also showed that he has the thick skin any first-round draft pick needs, especially if they're a quarterback.

With both sides of the ball competing fiercely in Wednesday's session, linebacker Bart Scott was quick to shout, "Nice job, Flacco!" every time a ball fell incomplete.

Defensive tackle Kelly Gregg waved a finger - a la Dikembe Mutumbo - at Flacco when he batted a ball at the line of scrimmage.

Still, Flacco believes that the real hazing won't begin until training camp, which opens July 21.

"They've been pretty easy, so they'll probably be tough on us sometime in training camp," he said with a sheepish grin. "I'm not really looking forward to that, but I'll have to put up with it."

Teaching dad how to run routes could be a tougher test, anyway. Injury Update

Linebacker Dan Cody (foot) was back fully participating in practice after being limited for much of the offseason minicamps. He has spent the entire past two full seasons sidelined with knee and foot injuries.

Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan gushed when he was asked about Cody's progress.

"We've had great expectations around here in Baltimore for Dan," Ryan said of the former second-round draft pick. "Unfortunately, he's never been able to get on the field to really show everybody what he's got. Right now, we've got him with his hand in the dirt, he's rushing the passer, and he looks fantastic to me."

The Ravens also welcomed back wideout Demetrius Williams, who was working on an Achilles tendon injury last week.

Williams was his typical springy self, loping around the field with no sign of the injury. He made a spectacular leaping catch from Boller down the middle of the field.

Tight end Daniel Wilcox (toe), tackle Adam Terry (ankle) and cornerback David Pittman (foot) were limited to some position drills.

Linebacker Mike Smith (shoulder) and cornerback Lenny Walls (undisclosed) did not practice.

Make it Official

The Ravens had collegiate officials Jon Stabile and Byron Adams present at Wednesday's session, making for some interesting banter among the team begging for calls.

On one play where Derrick Martin shoved Figurs out of bounds before Troy Smith threw to the apparently ineligible wideout, cornerback Corey Ivy was looking for a flag for his teammate in the defensive backfield.

"This the NFL!" he exclaimed. "You can't do that."

Also, defensive tackle Justin Bannan was pleading for a sack call on a red-jerseyed quarterback to rule a play dead.

"Why do the defensive linemen always get [overlooked]?" he joked.

Notable* *

Boller threw an interception to Martin on a 50-yard bomb to Kerry Reed. Martin made a nice adjustment in the end zone to haul in the pass over his shoulder and take off running in the other direction. Oddly enough, Cameron was one of the first to congratulate him…Troy Smith unleashed a 35-yard strike to Heap, who held on despite Fabian Washington's hand trying to wrestle the ball away…Cameron again stressed tempo, constantly imploring the offense to get in and out of the huddle quickly…Ryan on rookie safeties Tom Zbikowski, a boxer, and Haruki Nakamura, a judo practicioner: "We call them the mixed martial arts safeties, but we put them out there. We might not be able to cover anybody, but we're going to beat up somebody*. *They're doing really [well]."

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