With doctor visit, Ravens QB Joe Flacco could be nearing end of recovery from hip injury

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was expected to have a doctor examine his injured right hip Monday, coach John Harbaugh said, and could be nearing the end of a rehabilitation period that has thrust the team’s quarterback situation into uncertainty.

Harbaugh said after the Ravens’ 34-17 win Sunday over the Oakland Raiders, the team’s second straight with rookie Lamar Jackson starting, that Flacco was nearing the end of an initial three- to four-week timetable for recovery. At his weekly news conference Monday, Harbaugh said Flacco’s checkup would give the Ravens “some guidance” on his injury, which has kept him out of practice since after a Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Harbaugh was again noncommittal about the Ravens’ plans under center, saying only that they’ll “just do whatever we think gives us the best chance” against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. But he acknowledged that the team’s biggest concern with Flacco’s injury is the possibility of reinjury, such as a dislocated hip.

“It’s got to be strong and stable in terms of all of those things,” Harbaugh said, adding that there was no “big tear” in the hip muscles. “The hip has to be strong and not agitated for Joe to really protect himself. That’s the concern, Joe’s safety with the injury. That’s why it’s an opinion. That’s why the doctor has to decide. It’s not like a hamstring or something where you say, ‘Well, it’s this degree healed or not.’ They have to look at it and say, ‘OK, it’s good.’ ”

Flacco’s return would force a polarizing decision: Should the team’s longtime starter, a Super Bowl winner who has fallen on hard times recently, return to the top of the depth chart? Harbaugh sidestepped a question Monday about whether a starter should lose his job to injury. “So we’re going to go back to junior high cliches now?” he asked sarcastically. He pledged to field the best team possible.

Under Jackson, the Ravens have improved their yards per play on offense and yards per play allowed on defense. They have dominated time of possession in wins against the Cincinnati Bengals and Raiders. Their offense has changed radically from a high-volume passing attack under Flacco to a ground-and-pound approach with Jackson and running back Gus Edwards.

Who starts Sunday will be up to Harbaugh, he said, but not without input from the team’s stakeholders, from coaches to teammates to medical personnel. It is a decision that will not be made until later this week — “I don't think you start making these decisions until you get to the bridge,” Harbaugh said — but it is also not a decision he has had to make before.

“I never was a head coach until I got here,” said Harbaugh, nearing the end of his 11th year in Baltimore. “We haven't had this type of a situation since I've been here as a head coach.”

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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