The Ravens never needed to call on their backup quarterback for seven years (2008-2014).
Now, for the second straight year, Baltimore may need to turn to Ryan Mallett.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has a right shoulder injury that held him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. The more practice time Flacco misses, the more likely it seems he will not suit up Sunday against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
When asked Thursday whether he knows if Flacco will play, Mallett grinned and said, "We'll see."
A reporter said he would take that as a yes.
"OK, you can take it how you want to," Mallett replied.
"You have to be ready at the drop of a hat. If something happens during a game or any week of the season, you've always got to be ready."
Mallett started two games for Flacco last year. The first was on short notice against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium, where he and the Ravens pulled off a stunning upset. The other was a loss in Cincinnati to close out the season. Over the two starts, Mallett went 58-for-97 for 566 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Mallett has now had a lot more time to prepare than he did when he faced the Steelers. With Flacco sidelined for Organized Team Activities and minicamp, Mallett directed the first-team offense for much of the summer. Flacco played in just one preseason game, so Mallett got a lot of time with the starters then too.
"Oh, definitely [it makes a difference]," Mallett said. "Being able to be comfortable with the guys that are out there and throw to them a little bit more this offseason and this week has been good."
Mallett said he doesn't think the change to new Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will be an additional challenge because he, like Flacco, has been working with Mornhinweg for the past two years as quarterbacks coach.
"It doesn't matter who's on the field, we need to play in a consistent manner and an efficient manner," Mornhinweg said. "He had a really good practice yesterday, even better practice today. He had three, four [mistakes] yesterday, cut that down to one or two today."
"I'm certain that he's going to be ready to play Sunday. No question."
The Ravens will be ready either way. It still remains to be seen if Flacco's shoulder will feel good enough to practice at all this week.
"I hope the best for him; I hope he's out there Sunday," Mallett said. "As a competitor, of course I want to play, but I want what's best for the team."