Joe Flacco was at the Under Armour Performance Center at the start of last year's offseason strength and conditioning program, but he wasn't doing nearly the same workout.
A year ago, Flacco was still rehabbing his surgically-repaired left knee. Four months and one week after his injury, he had no timetable for his return and called his knee just "functional."
This year, Flacco's finishing first among his group of peers in sprints.
As the cliché goes, what a difference a year makes.
"I kind of forgot that I was not out here running with these guys [last year]," Flacco said Wednesday. "Some of the bad stuff I think my mind kind of quickly forgets about and moves on."
Flacco had an up-and-down season last year. He threw for a career-high 4,317 yards, but tossed 15 interceptions to 20 touchdowns. His quarterback rating of 83.5 ranked 24th in the NFL.
Flacco reiterated that his troubles had nothing to do with his knee. He said the repaired ACL felt good all year and was not on his mind while playing.
He said the annoying part was having to answer questions about it all year.
"It really just ends up being a distraction because you end up getting asked about it a lot and you therefore think about it a little more," Flacco said. "It is definitely nice to not have to deal with that."
But the biggest reason why Flacco is happy not to be rehabbing this offseason is that it will allow more time working with his teammates.
Last year, Flacco didn't return to practice until the start of training camp, meaning he missed all of the team's organized team activities and minicamp. He played in just one preseason game.
That left him with less time to develop chemistry with his teammates. This offseason, he'll have more time to work with his pass catchers. Specifically, Flacco and 2015 first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman need to thrive this season. They've never had a full offseason together due to both of their knee injuries.
"I think it will help a lot," Flacco said of being healthy. "I think we still have a lot of young guys, so it is nice for me to be out there working with them and have them have me around to bounce questions off and things like that. I think it will definitely help us as an offense."
Flacco finished the season healthy and rolled right into his offseason training. He took up boxing with his brother and father, and reported for the voluntary strength program on Day 1.
On Tuesday, Flacco was throwing a heavy medicine ball backwards over his head, then chasing it down. New Director of Performance Steve Saunders said Flacco has no physical limitations from his knee.
"Joe did fantastic the past two days," Saunders said. "We all watched film yesterday of some of the runs and we're like, 'Wow, that was Joe on some of them finishing first.' For him, I just think there's a confidence, there's building on last year, and there's getting Joe stronger and faster, and all of that is going to pay big dividends later during the season."
"Everything will be better," Flacco added. "You can just attack it with a little bit more 'umph', and you are starting with a better foundation. I think that always helps."