- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2017

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Before the start of his Monday press conference, Ravens coach John Harbaugh exchanged pleasantries with former Redskins great Joe Theismann, who was on hand to watch the Ravens practice ahead of Thursday’s preseason game against the Redskins.

The two shared a laugh, and if the long-retired Theismann could still play a little, Harbaugh certainly could have used the extra arm.

The Ravens have been without starter Joe Flacco because of a back injury for the entire training camp and backup Ryan Mallett has been taking all of his snaps.

Despite Flacco’s injury, which does not have a timetable, Harbaugh said Mallett will play “pretty extensively” against the Redskins.

“How much that ends up being probably will be determined,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll have a plan. … It’s an opportunity for Ryan to get ready. I think that’s something that he’s had that chance before. Last year in the offseason, before Joe got back to training camp, those reps were really huge for a quarterback. So he’ll want to make the most of those reps with the 1’s and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Mallett is entering his third year with the Ravens after spending two years each with the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots. With the Ravens, Mallett has rarely seen extensive action on the field, except for two games during the 2015 season when Flacco and backup Matt Schaub were both out with injuries. He threw six passes in 2016. 

The 29-year-old, though, has had an uneven camp and the Ravens have discussed signing Colin Kaepernick to add another quarterback in Flacco’s absence. The Ravens signed journeyman Josh Woodrum for a camp arm last week.

Mallett said he’s got “tunnel vision” when it comes to his role and is focused on improving everyday.

“I always prepare if I was starting,” Mallett said. “To me, that’s the only way you can do it if you want to be successful anyway.”

Harbaugh gave no update to Flacco’s status on Monday. ESPN reported, however, Flacco received a second opinion on his injured back and the result was “positive for a slow return.”

The Ravens want Flacco to return, but are being cautious.

“I want him here yesterday,” Harbaugh said. “I want him here a week ago. I want him here the first day. So as soon as he’s ready to go, we’ll go to work to get him ready. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. Joe knows the offense.

“But still, there’s a rhythm, chemistry and timing and execution that really practice is valuable for. So the sooner the better. But not before he’s ready.”

Baltimore’s injury situation goes far beyond Flacco. They’ve lost running back Kenneth Dixon, cornerback Tavon Young, tight end Crockett Gilmore and rookie guard Nico Siragusa for the season with injuries. They also released tight end Dennis Pitta in June after he suffered his third hip injury.

But NFL players like to tout the “next man up” mantra and the show goes on. Running back Terrance West, who was the Ravens’ starting running back last year and looks to take over the role again after Dixon’s knee injury, said he’s eager to finally play in a game.

“I can’t wait, man,” West said. “Practice is hard. The game is easy. I can’t wait for Thursday, get a few plays in there. Might bust a long one, so I’m excited.”

The Ravens and the Redskins play Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. 

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