The Ravens got some very good news Saturday afternoon.
Franchise quarterback Joe Flacco returned to practice for the first time since a back injury sidelined him at the start of training camp.
"It feels good to be back out here with the guys and be a part of everything again," Flacco said in a team statement. "Really, it's been a weird situation the last few weeks, because it's just something you have to wait out. You're putting in all the hard work you can, but at the same time, it's a waiting game. You definitely have to fight against not doing anything, but also keep your mind fresh.
"But for today, it was awesome being back on the field – just like it always is – and to be with my guys. I feel excited about the season we have coming up."
Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and running back Danny Woodhead (reported hamstring) also returned to practice after missing multiple weeks.
The Ravens have been adamant throughout Flacco's recovery that he is on track to play in the season opener. He resumed throwing last week, and having him on the field as the Ravens begin their preparation for Cincinnati is a good indication of where he is at this point.
During the portion of practice open to the media, Flacco jogged out to the field and went through light passing drills.
He threw the ball downfield 25 to 30 yards without showing any signs of his back hindering his ability.
"Joe looked good," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He practiced very well. Now one of the next pieces is to see how he responds to that over the next few days."
He will now have to get right to work building cohesiveness with his receiving core and the rest of the offense.
"It felt real good having everyone back, having everyone back in the swing of things," Perriman said. "We're just all getting our chemistry back, but I feel like we didn't lose too much of a step at all."
Perriman acknowledged he will have to knock off some rust and get into game shape, but stressed that's he "definitely" confident about being ready to go Week 1.
"I don't think we're second guessing that at all," Perriman told reporters. "I think we'll be fine for Week 1."
A big question is how quickly Flacco will be able to get into a rhythm with newcomers like Woodhead and Jeremy Maclin. He has only practiced with Maclin three times, and he's yet to even go through a padded practice with either of them.
Woodhead didn't seem too worried about that issue.
"I feel comfortable with Joe," Woodhead said. "I don't think that's something I've thought about a lot. It's more just get back on there on the field."