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John Harbaugh Gives Timeline On Joe Flacco's Recovery


Head Coach John Harbaugh expects quarterback Joe Flacco to be back in time for training camp next year.

Of course, that's still eight months away, but that's the general timeline Harbaugh outlined Monday.

An MRI confirmed that Flacco has a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee. He will undergo surgery on both ligaments as soon as the swelling goes down, which won't be within the week.

Once Flacco has surgery, he'll jump into his rehab right away, Harbaugh said.

"I think it's probably way early and obviously speculative, but indications that I've been given are that he would be back for the start of training camp, and it wouldn't be an issue," Harbaugh said. "However, as we all well know, those are always things that are determined based on how the rehab goes."

Flacco's injury ends his streak of 122 straight regular season starts, which was the fifth-longest in NFL history and third-best active streak behind the New York Giants' Eli Manning (177) and San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers (154).

Monday night's game in Cleveland will mark the first time Harbaugh has ever coached a game in Baltimore without Flacco as his quarterback. The two have been linked ever since they came to the Ravens together in 2008.

"He's been an iron man," Harbaugh said. "So this will be a change for all of us, and it will be a challenge for us. It's a challenge that I wouldn't say we're looking forward to, we'd rather that not be the case, but we're not going to shy away from it."

There's also the question of how the injury will affect Flacco's performance going forward. Will he be the same quarterback he was before the injury?

Harbaugh said it will be interesting to see, but that there's no way to know.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer tore his ACL in Week 10 last year and was back on the field in time for the Cardinals' first preseason game. He's having perhaps the best season of his career at 35 years old, and is an MVP candidate.

"There have been quarterbacks who have ACLs and there's been position players who have ACLs and they come back fine," Harbaugh said.

"It's not like the quarterback position is even like some of those other positions in terms of the need to maintain a real high level of speed and stuff. Joe can run, he's athletic, but if there is some drop-off, that's not the main thing for the quarterback."

Flacco is a pocket passer, so as long as his strong right arm is doing alright, he should be fine. Mostly, he moves around in the pocket and a little bit outside of it to buy more time. While Flacco does occasionally surprise people with his speed and athleticism on scrambles, he only has 13 rushes for 23 yards this year.

"The way technology is, guys bounce back from these things really well, and I have every expectation that he'll bounce back 100 percent and be stronger than ever and be ready to roll next year and be in great shape like he always is," Harbaugh said. "That's a long way away, but right now there's no reason to think he won't come back."

The other major injury that will linger into the offseason is the broken arm of Justin Forsett. Harbaugh said he didn't have a prognosis on Forsett's return, but the Ravens running back already went into surgery on Tuesday.

"My assumption is that bones heal pretty quickly," Harbaugh said. "So I'm sure he'll be back in the offseason lifting weights and training. I would expect Justin to be back next year full speed, ready to go. He's under contract and a big part of what we're doing going forward."

Now Baltimore's focus is on how to immediately replace Flacco and Forsett.

While the Ravens have other running backs on the roster to step up, including Terrance West and Raheem Mostert, Baltimore will add a backup quarterback this week.

Harbaugh said "there is progress on that" but* *nothing is finalized and General Manager Ozzie Newsome is talking to some candidates. The Ravens didn't have anybody in for a tryout Monday as Harbaugh said that isn't the most important part of the determination. They would prefer somebody with some knowledge of their offense and Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's system.

The Ravens could also add two quarterbacks, including one to the practice squad. Bryn Renner, who impressed in the preseason, is a candidate for that practice squad spot, Harbaugh said.

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