Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that quarterback Joe Flacco will “ramp up” his work in practice this week but added that team doctors likely won’t determine Flacco’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs until the end of the week.
“He’s cleared to practice, so he’ll practice,” Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference. “They’ll probably look at the practice, what he does in practice — they look at tape. And they’ll just let me know. They’ll let us know. We expect to ramp him up in practice a lot more this week, since last week was his first week. And we’ll just see how it goes.”
Flacco, who’s recovering from a right hip injury, returned to practice as a limited participant last week but hasn’t appeared in a game since the Ravens’ 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 4.
Harbaugh said he was not medically cleared to play in Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. Rookie Lamar Jackson is 3-0 as Flacco’s replacement, but Harbaugh has not said which quarterback will start if both are healthy.
The Ravens hold the sixth playoff spot in the AFC and are a half-game behind the Steelers in the AFC North. They’ll face one of their most difficult challenges of the season Sunday against a Chiefs offense that Harbaugh called “arguably the best in the league.”
Cullen interviews for college job
Harbaugh confirmed that defensive line coach Joe Cullen had interviewed for the vacant head coaching position at Massachusetts, his alma mater. The job was filled Monday by Florida State offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
Bell, 34, spent one year at Florida State and previously served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Maryland during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Cullen, 51, played nose tackle for the Minutemen in the late 1980s but has never served as a head coach at either the college or professional level. He took over as the Ravens’ defensive line coach in 2016.
“We have great coaches,” Harbaugh said. “They're going to have opportunities, but the college jobs happen now, so it's not a problem. Guys don't need to spend a lot of time preparing for those interviews with [athletic directors], and hiring committees understand they're in a season and they're trying to win games, so they don't expect them to come in there with some kind of PowerPoint presentation that'll blow them away.”
Former UMass coach Mark Whipple stepped down Nov. 21.
“We appreciate our guys,” Harbaugh said. “We have great coaches, and if they get opportunities like that, I like to see guys get opportunities, and I want to see them advance in the profession.”
Coy on Collins
Harbaugh was asked for the first time why the Ravens placed leading rusher Alex Collins on injured reserve Saturday to make space for Kenneth Dixon.
“We did need the roster spot, so that usually dictates when you have to make a move,” he said. “Beyond that, I’ll just kind of leave that for [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] to explain.”
The move brought an abrupt end to a disappointing season for Collins, who was the team’s breakout offensive star in 2017. He finished with 411 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries after rushing for 973 yards and averaging 4.6 yards per carry in his first season in Baltimore.
Harbaugh initially said the foot injury that sidelined Collins after their Nov. 18 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals was day-to-day, and he was a full participant in practice Friday.
But the Ravens instead cleared space for Dixon, who returned from IR to carry the ball eight times for 37 yards Sunday.