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Second look

A day after leading the Ravens to a season-opening 17-10 victory, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco received some good-natured ribbing from his teammates and a vote of confidence from his head coach.

"Flacco will be the starter this week," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at yesterday's news conference.

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Selected 18th in the draft, Flacco essentially won the starting job last week by default because the team's other quarterbacks - Troy Smith (tonsil infection) and Kyle Boller (season-ending shoulder injury) - were sidelined with medical issues.

But Flacco earned this next start after completing 15 of 29 passes for 129 yards and recording some impressive marks.

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Along with the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan, Flacco became the first quarterback drafted in the first round to win a season opener since the Houston Texans' David Carr in 2002. And Flacco's 38-yard dash to the end zone was the longest touchdown run in NFL history by a quarterback making his debut.

Flacco's impressive first game earned him another start but not a season-long commitment.

Of those responding to a question on The Baltimore Sun's Web site, 94.3 percent want Flacco to remain the starter even if Smith is healthy enough to practice.

But Harbaugh said Flacco didn't need a victory to win over the locker room.

"I think he had already earned a lot of confidence because of the way he had conducted himself and the way he prepared," Harbaugh said. "Our guys were not surprised by the way he handled himself. But certainly by winning the football game, the players were excited for him."

Still, the Ravens didn't forget that Flacco is a rookie.

"In true NFL and Ravens fashion, he was brought down to earth by the players on a regular basis today," said Harbaugh, who declined to go into specifics on the antics of Flacco's teammates. "They were letting him know that it's a team game. He's receptive to that because that's the kind of guy he is. He had a lot of fun with it."

Jamison Hensley breaks down improvement areas for rookie. PG 8


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