July 26, 2017 -- Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec on the loss of running back Kenneth Dixon for the season and the optimism of veterans Terrell Suggs and Mike Wallace about the upcoming season. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
The Ravens' first day of the 2017 training camp at their practice facility in Owings Mills began without their most important offensive player on the field.
Quarterback Joe Flacco did not practice this morning and is expected to sit out the first week. The 32-year-old – who is entering his 10th season, all with the Ravens – is battling discomfort in his back that has plagued him for the past two weeks and became more pronounced on Wednesday, according to sources.
Team officials hope rest will help Flacco's back improve although the NFL Network had reported that he could be sidelined as long as three to six weeks. In Flacco's absence, veteran Ryan Mallett and Dustin Vaughan ran the offense on Thursday.
Coach John Harbaugh will speak to the media after Thursday's practice. Flacco is scheduled to talk after Friday's session.
Flacco has been a model of durability during his career, sitting out only six games. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee in his 10th start of the 2015 season, but returned in time to take part in the first practice of last year's training camp.
He played the entire 2016 campaign and registered career highs in yards (4,317) and completion percentage (64.9). But he also averaged only 6.4 yards per catch – the second-lowest total of his career – and threw 15 interceptions against only 20 touchdowns.
Flacco joins a growing list of injured key players for the Ravens. Tight end Dennis Pitta (fractured hip), cornerback Tavon Young (torn anterior cruciate ligament in left knee), and running back Kenneth Dixon (torn meniscus in left knee) are out for the season. Tight end Darren Waller will serve a year-long suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.