For much of the year, Ravens backup quarterback Matt Schaub has been acting as the opponent's quarterback, practicing with the scout team to test Baltimore's defense.
This week, Schaub practiced with the starters – as the starting quarterback himself – for the first time in long time.
While it remains to be seen how Schaub's first start since Dec. 29, 2013 will go, his week of practice leading up to Monday Night Football in Cleveland was a good start.
"He looked good. He looked really good," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Saturday.
"Matt has got his strengths, and every player has got different strengths. That's an interesting thing, whether it's the quarterback position or whatever position. Matt brings a unique skillset to the table and does a really good job with the things he does well. So, I'm excited to see how he's going to play Monday night, and I expect he's going to play very well."
Schaub doesn't have as strong an arm as Flacco. Every week leading up to games, opposing coaches and players will say that Flacco can make every throw on the field.
That's not Schaub's game. However, he's very knowledgeable and good at reading defenses. He's seen a lot in his 12 seasons.
Schaub can also work the play-action game well and still throw bombs. He did that a lot while playing under Gary Kubiak in Houston for seven years. The Ravens still run a similar offense now.
Schaub said this week of practice was "really smooth" in terms of the execution and the game plan. But what he's been particularly happy with is the connection he's made with his teammates.
Due to injuries, he's practicing with a lot of the same targets (and offensive linemen) that he worked with during the preseason and even on the scout team.
"Just being around here, I feel like I haven't been in the huddle with a lot of guys, but a lot of the guys that are playing I have been in the huddle with on the look team," he said. "There's a sense of camaraderie there."
Schaub said the only difference in preparation for him this week has been the reps with the first team. The mental preparation was all the same.
"The way the week's gone, we're ready to go play and cut it loose," Schaub said. "There haven't been any blips this week."
Schaub took a lot of heat from the media during training camp for a high number of interceptions. Even outside linebacker Terrell Suggs chided Schaub.
Now Schaub has to show the media and fans who doubted him that he's got more left in the tank.
"I'm just excited – seriously – I'm excited for him," Harbaugh said. "I'm excited for his opportunity, and our players are confident in him, and it has really nothing to do with proving anybody right or wrong. I couldn't care less about that, in all honestly."