Derrick Mason talks about the Ravens offense

The Baltimore Sun

Derrick Mason announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, and he went out as a member of the Ravens. General manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh joined Mason in the auditorium at the Under Armour Performance Center as he said goodbye. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, quarterback Joe Flacco and wide receiver Torrey Smith were among those in attendance.

Mason spent most of the 30-minute news conference reminiscing about his time with the team and speaking about his decision to retire. But he also talked about the current state of the Ravens, specifically their offense.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t get an opportunity while I was playing to bring the Super Bowl to this city, another one. But I think y’all are in good hands with Joe, who to me is one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” the 38-year-old said. “He proved that last year, so I think ya’ll are in good hands. As well as Torrey, who now can become that go-to guy. He did a great job last year, and now he gets to build on what he did last year.”

Mason never played with Smith, who was a rookie last season, but they did practice together when Mason and other Ravens players held informal workouts during the lockout last summer. And Mason, of course, was Flacco's go-to guy for three seasons, catching 214 of his passes for 2,867 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Monday wasn’t the only time Mason that has pumped up his former quarterback. A few weeks after Mason was traded by the New York Jets, he said that Flacco was a better quarterback than Jets starter Mark Sanchez.

Sure, there was that facemask-grabbing incident in 2010, but Mason and Flacco had good chemistry on the field. Harbaugh said the two clicked right away when Flacco was thrust into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2008. Flacco targeted the veteran often, and Mason had 80 catches for 1,037 yards and five touchdowns that season.

“Joe was new to this. It was the NFL. It was his first shot,” Harbaugh said. “Derrick was a guy you could count on. Derrick was a guy who was going to be where he was supposed to be. He was going to run a great route -- I’ve never seen a better route runner and Cam has said it [too]. … And for a young quarterback to be able to trust that he was going to run the right route, that he was going to come out of his break quickly, that he was going to be where Joe expected him to be and he was going to catch the ball, I would think that’s pretty good.”

Flacco had an up-and-down 2011 season without Mason -- he also lost another security blanket in tight end Todd Heap -- but he played well in the division-clinching win in Week 17 and in their two playoff games. Still, Mason believes that Flacco and the rest of the offense “will make sure that this team is good moving forward.”

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