Joe Flacco's Biggest Hurdle Remaining May Be Mental, Not Physical


Joe Flacco is running and cutting on his surgically repaired left knee. His knee gets a little sore by the end of the week, he said, but standing around makes it hurt more than moving, and he won't be standing around for much longer.

The Ravens quarterback said he feels so good that if he had to practice today, he would.

It would be a stretch to say that Flacco's recovery is behind him (he is still rehabbing), but the state of Flacco's mind may be a bigger hurdle than his knee.

At the end of minicamp, Flacco said he's not sure how he'll react to having pressure in his face again.

"It's funny, when I'm out there running around and cutting on it and doing those things, there is no tentativeness, because I didn't hurt it that way," Flacco said. "I hurt it getting hit.

"I'm curious. It will probably be a little different the first time I take a couple drop-backs and feel a little bit of guys coming in my face. I'll have to step and throw still."

Flacco was injured just after ripping a pass in the Week 11 game against the Rams. Left tackle James Hurst fell into Flacco's left knee as his foot was planted. Flacco never saw it coming.

Offensive and defensive lineman falling around a quarterback's knees is just part of the game. And it's something that Flacco has mostly been able to avoid during his eight seasons.

But after the devastating shot ended his season and consecutive games played streak, Flacco will have to get over the mental hurdle of trusting that it won't happen again. He'll have to hang in the pocket and take hits while throwing the football.

"I don't expect to have those kinds of thoughts linger in my head," Flacco said. "But you never know until you get out there and do it again."

Flacco said he will wear a knee brace when he returns, if merely to provide him with some peace of mind. While Flacco was being real by admitting there will be a mental hurdle, he also didn't seem to be worried about it.

"I feel like, mentally, I can attack things pretty well," he said.

Until he returns on the first day of training camp, Flacco will continue rehabbing at the Under Armour Performance Center and will add more throwing into his workouts.

He said he's thrown "a little bit, not a ton." He's only had little catches, not planting and firing out-routes or any of the more physically challenging throws.

"I can ramp that part of it up a little bit more just so my arm will go into camp ready to go and I don't have to fight any issues with that," Flacco said. "I think that will be the biggest thing, just getting my arm to the point where is really in shape to take on the load of training camp and the year."

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