Joe Flacco is expected to increase his participation in practice this week as he continues to recover from his right hip injury, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh.
A decision will be made later in the week on Flacco’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Flacco returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, but he was not cleared to play against the Atlanta Falcons.
Flacco has not played since Nov. 4 when he was injured against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens (7-5) are on a three-game winning streak with rookie Lamar Jackson as their starting quarterback, but Harbaugh has not said which quarterback will start once Flacco is cleared to play.
“[Flacco is] cleared to practice, so he’ll practice,” Harbaugh said Monday. “[Doctors will] probably look at what he does in practice. They look at the tape and they’ll just let me know. We expect to ramp him up in practice a lot more this week, since last week was his first week.”
Ball Security Will Be Emphasized for Ravens This Week After Fumbles in Atlanta
Despite winning Sunday, the Ravens fumbled four times – three by Jackson and one by running back Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens recovered three of those fumbles, but the one they didn’t recover was costly. Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley corralled one of Jackson’s three fumbles and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown.
Even if the Ravens control time of possession and play well defensively, Harbaugh knows an explosive team like the Chiefs can strike quickly if Baltimore cannot avoid turnovers.
“That’s the biggest thing I saw from, offensively, an area of improvement, is we need to hold on to the football,” Harbaugh said. “The football is on the ground way too much. Our guys know that, and that will be – continue to be – a major point of emphasis, and even more so, because that’s just going to be critically important.”
Harbaugh Pleased With RB Dixon’s First Game in Three Months
In his first game since Week 1, Dixon gave the running game a lift with 37 yards on eight carries. Dixon had not played since suffering a knee injury in September, spending the next two months on injured reserve until he returned to practice last month and was elevated to the 53-man roster Saturday.
“I think he had eight or nine carries there, quite a few for the first time back in such a long time, and did well,” Harbaugh said. “Ran hard. He’ll be beating himself over dropping the ball. The good thing is, he recovered it right away.”
Gus Edwards led Baltimore’s rushing attack with 82 yards on 21 carries, while Jackson had 75 yards on 17 carries. Even with Jackson’s ability to run the football, Harbaugh does not mind the workload being shared among running backs, and he likes the physicality that Edwards and Dixon run with.
“It’s tough being a running back,” Harbaugh said. “You’re the target. There’s a lot of big guys and every play you get hit and you’re the punching bag so to speak. Those two guys (Edwards and Dixon) deliver the blow pretty much, too. I like the way they run.”
Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen Interviewed for UMass Head Coaching Job
Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen interviewed to fill the vacant head coaching position at the University of Massachusetts, Harbaugh confirmed.
Cullen played at UMass and was also an assistant coach there for two years (1990-91). Harbaugh was happy to allow Cullen to interview over the weekend before Sunday’s victory in Atlanta. Cullen has been an assistant coach at both the college and professional level, but he has never been a head coach.
“This happens a lot this time of year, and Joe did interview at UMass,” Harbaugh said. “We have great coaches. They’re going to have opportunities. The college jobs happen now. That’s not a problem. Guys don’t need to spend a lot of time preparing for those interviews. AD’s and hiring committees understand that they’re in a season and they’re trying to win games. They don’t expect them to come in there with some kind of a power-point presentation that will blow them away. I don’t think they’re looking for that. It took about two hours.
“It’s something that we’re proud of. I like to see guys get opportunities and want to see them advance in the profession.”