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No turning back now

The Baltimore Sun

Granted, the numbers are not good. In fact, during the past two weeks, Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco's statistics have been horrible - zero touchdown passes and five interceptions.

However, Flacco - despite a 60.6 passer rating and just one TD pass to go along with seven interceptions over five games - should remain the starter for the rest of the season, barring a meltdown.

Admittedly, back in training camp before a shoulder injury ended Kyle Boller's season and Troy Smith's illness caused him to drop 20 to 30 pounds, I advocated for either over Flacco. I cited the damage that can be done to a young quarterback tossed into the NFL crucible too soon. But circumstances changed drastically, and now Flacco is the guy.

Obviously, he is experiencing growing pains. But Flacco appears to be mentally tough enough to learn from his mistakes and then put them behind him. He's an extremely bright and self-aware athlete who understands the distinction between his miscalculations and the occasional physical error - both contributed to the three interceptions against the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday's 31-3 road loss.

As for the alternative, Troy Smith, there might be simply not enough time to get him the practice repetitions it would take to make him battle-ready - and that's assuming he can stand up to the pounding.

Clearly, there are times when Flacco is in the pocket and still processing when the ball should be leaving his hand. Clearly, he has occasionally underestimated the speed and quickness of NFL defenders. And clearly, there have been times when he has over-reached. But his arm strength, intelligence and resilience all show enormous promise.

Urgency made Flacco the Ravens' starting quarterback. Now, it will take patience to allow him to grow into the job.

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