Quarterback Ryan Mallett marched the Ravens straight down the field for an opening-drive touchdown Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, making a good first impression in what has been a change from the first five years of his career.
A 2011 NFL draft pick of the New England Patriots under coach Bill Belichick, Mallett was claimed off waivers by the Houston Texans and coach Bill O'Brien — a Belichick disciple — before the 2014 season.
Mallett seems to have found a home in a Ravens system that on Sunday was tailored to his strengths. He passed for a career-high 274 yards in the win over Pittsburgh.
"It's something new for me," Mallett said. "I'm out of the old regime, I guess you could say, the Belichick tree, which was not a bad one, but I'm out of it now. It's good to get something new. It makes me work a little bit harder now because I don't know everything about the system, so it's been good."
Mallett's arm strength and decision-making both at the line of scrimmage and in his throw selection was impressive in the debut, and his 95 passer rating was his highest as a starter this season — he made four starts with the Texans before he was released.
"I think we did a good job with the game plan, with coach [Marc] Trestman and [quarterbacks coach] Marty [Mornhinweg] getting the package together that suited my strengths," Mallett said. "So, hopefully we can do the same thing this week."
His performance was, at least in the short-term, vindication for the Ravens, who took a chance on Mallett. He was released because of an accumulation of off-field issues in Houston, and only signed with the Ravens after those issues were addressed.
"There was a lot of talk about that," coach John Harbaugh said. "It was mostly done with Ozzie [Newsome, general manager and executive vice president] on that side of it — Ozzie making a lot of calls and doing a lot of homework and a lot of research, and then Ozzie sharing with me what he had found out. We just decided from a risk-reward [standpoint] — and where it seemed like Ryan was at with conversations that Ozzie had with Ryan and then with his representatives — that it was worth the risk, so to speak."
Mallett wouldn't share many details of those conversations, but did say one of them was about how "everybody gets a second chance.
"It's what you do with it, so this is my second chance," Mallett said. "I'm trying to take it and run with it."
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk missed practice because of illness, while outside linebackers Albert McClellan (ankle) and Elvis Dumervil (not injury related) also sat out. … Harbaugh said cornerback Sheldon Price was added to the active roster Tuesday because another team was interested in him, and he earned a chance to be called up from the practice squad. … The Denver Broncos signed guard Robert Myers off the Ravens practice squad. Myers, the Ravens' fifth-round NFL draft pick in 2015, also spent time with the Indianapolis Colts this season after being waived coming out of training camp. Guard Leon Brown was signed to the practice squad in his place. … Sunday's game against the Bengals will be broadcast on Fox, not CBS, as part of the NFL's flexible scheduling policy.