Ryan Mallett beat the Steelers last year with less than two weeks to prepare.
Now he's imagining what he can do with even more time.
With Joe Flacco still rehabbing his knee and not expected back until training camp, Mallett has the reins of the Ravens offense throughout much of the offseason.
"I'm preparing like I'm the starter," Mallett said. "It's what I grew up doing. The past five years hasn't been like that, so it's definitely a comfortable feeling for me."
Mallett was a 2011 third-round pick of the Patriots and spent three years behind Tom Brady. He went to Houston with a shot at the starting job, but was beaten out by Matt Schaub in 2014 and lost the job again* *early in 2015.
Mallett was out of the league midway through the season before the Ravens gave him another chance and signed him in mid-December. That was after Mallett showed he was beyond some of his off-field problems.
The strong-armed quarterback made the most of his opportunity, beating the Steelers in Baltimore and putting up a good fight in Cincinnati in Week 17. Over the two games, he completed 61 percent of his passes, averaged 283 passing yards and threw two touchdowns and two interceptions.
That momentum gave Mallett a boost going into the offseason, he said. He's been at the Under Armour Performance Center from the get-go, including football schools and the first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
He's clearly well-liked by his teammates, as he joked with his receivers as they walked off the practice field Thursday, then gave safety Eric Weddle a huge slap on the behind with a wide grin.
"It's been one of my best offseasons since I've been in the league," Mallett said. "I feel light years ahead after being here for the whole offseason and starting here in OTAs and football school."
Obviously, once Flacco returns, Mallett is back to being the No. 2. But with Flacco coming off an ACL tear and no longer seemingly infallible, you never know when a backup quarterback could be called upon.
Mallett is getting invaluable reps this summer with the first-team offense – the same guys he'd be playing with if he were thrust into action during the regular season.
"I think it's good for me to be in the offense longer," Mallett said. "To come out here and get in the huddle with these guys I'd be playing with, it's good for me to get the timing down for training camp and preseason and everything."