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Joe Flacco Addresses Ravens Drops


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made headlines last week with his on-field tirades upon seeing pass after pass hit the turf.

Brady was fuming, and he let the whole nation see it.

That's not how Joe Flacco rolls.

The Ravens have the fifth-most drops in the league this season (six), just two fewer than Brady's Patriots. Flacco has seen tight end Dallas Clark and receivers Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown all drop potential touchdowns. Tight end Ed Dickson has struggled with his hands perhaps more than anyone.

Yet on Wednesday, Flacco gave it a simple shrug and expressed confidence in his pass catchers.

"It just is what it is," Flacco said. "You've got to have confidence that your guys are going to catch the ball. If that's our problem right now, then I have a lot of confidence that we'll be good, because these guys are going to catch the ball."

Flacco is working with a number of new targets this season in Clark and wide receivers Brandon Stokley and Brown. Even Dickson is still trying to work off some rust after missing the preseason.

Flacco said he thinks the biggest thing those players need is confidence, so they come out of the meeting rooms feeling like they know what they're doing. He feels drops are usually the result of players who "aren't completely comfortable in their environment yet."

"When we take the field, just go out and play," Flacco said. "I think when we get to the point where everybody can do that, then that's when you're going to see them making the great catches, making the routine catches, and doing all of that."

Flacco has shown a bit more emotion with his receivers on gameday this year. When Tandon Doss ran an incorrect route during the preseason, cameras showed Flacco yelling and pointing as the two came off the field.

When Clark dropped a potential touchdown pass in Denver, Flacco simply put his hands on his helmet in disbelief. Even that was more than what Ravens fans are accustomed to.

But generally, Flacco doesn't like to have much of a reaction on the field when his receivers drop passes.

"Gameday is not the time to go up and beat someone's confidence up," Flacco said. "The thing our guys need is confidence. If anything, they need me to sit down with them and say, 'Man, you've got a ton of ability. Just go out there and let it go.'

"All these guys catch the ball unbelievably. That's why they're playing for us, that's why they're in this league. ... That's my teammate. That's the guy we have out there in the huddle with us and I have all the confidence in the world and I'm going to continue to have all the confidence in the world in them."

Flacco said he can't write a receiver off because then he might throw into double or triple coverage trying to force it to somebody else.

"So I'm going to continue to go where I think the ball needs to go," Flacco said. "I'm going to continue to have confidence in our guys making catches. And eventually we're all going to make plays. We've done it before and we're going to continue to do it."

Flacco isn't the only one supporting the Ravens receivers, and specifically Dickson.

"Ed can catch the ball; he's caught many balls here before," Harbaugh said. "Ed's going to catch a lot of balls."

Smith struggled with drops early on in his rookie season, and thus feels like he can relate to his teammates' struggles.

"You got here by catching the ball, and you can do it," Smith said. "Just don't press and let it come to you. … Everyone has your back. Just go out there and focus. Be confident."

Hearing that meant volumes for Dickson, who spoke in a calm, relaxed tone in the locker room Wednesday. Dickson fielded dozens of questions from reporters about his drops.

"If you've got a lot of people pointing fingers and a lot of people losing confidence, you lose confidence in yourself," Dickson said.

Besides maintaining confidence, drops can be corrected simply through work. Dickson said he's staying after practice every day to catch extra balls from Flacco and take some off the JUGs machine. He plans on maintaining that routine – success or not – throughout the entire season.

"It's definitely going to come," Dickson said. "I've got a lot of confidence in myself and a lot of confidence that I'm going to have a big year."

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