Much of the hype around last week’s Hall of Fame game centered on rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.
In the M&T Bank Stadium preseason opener, fans got to see why most of the excitement at Ravens training camp has been about Joe Flacco and the revamped passing attack.
Flacco and the first-team offense took the field for the first time Thursday against the Los Angeles Rams and kept their wave of offseason momentum rolling.
In his one and only drive, Flacco went 5-of-7 for 71 yards, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to fullback Patrick Ricard. It came with many of the Rams’ starters on the bench, but it was still about as good as it could get.
“It’s good to see it in training camp, and you get a feel of ‘Hey, maybe we’re going to be good on offense,’” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “But you want to see it in a game.”
The Ravens started their march immediately. Flacco’s first pass was a 12-yard dart to first-round rookie tight end Hayden Hurst. Then Flacco hit his new starting wide receivers. First, he overcame a second-and-25 situation (after an illegal block) with a 17-yard strike to John Brown, followed by a 30-yard pass to Michael Crabtree.
The throw to Crabtree was notable because Flacco eluded pressure and slid to his left before lobbing the pass to the veteran free-agent addition. Flacco is noticeably more mobile than he was at the start of last season when he suffered through an offseason back injury, and it should make a big difference in him getting off to a better start this year.
Flacco isn’t one to put too much stock into one successful preseason drive. The Ravens still have three more preseason games before they kick off the regular season, so there’s a lot more work to do. But it was definitely a good start, and one that shouldn’t be totally discounted either.
“Once the regular season starts, this isn’t going to mean anything,” Flacco said. “But what it does for our confidence as a group, our confidence as a team, that will carry us pretty far into the season.”
It’s night and day between last year when the Ravens offense scuffled and sometimes grew frustrated during the preseason with Ryan Mallett under center and Flacco on the sidelines.
This year’s first-team passing unit has gelled, and Flacco said carrying that into a game is especially important for the new receivers and rookies.
“Hopefully we can keep this going,” he said. “I think we’ve got the guys to do it.”
Check out the best shots from Thursday night's preseason game between the Ravens and visiting Los Angeles Rams.