Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco and Ravens begin preparation for new offense

On their way to the team facility Monday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his longtime backup, Tyrod Taylor, practiced calling out the cadence of various plays in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's new system.

It was yet another reminder that this year's training camp, which officially begins with Thursday's first full-squad practice, will be a new experience for many members of the offense.


Flacco, who took part in a workout Tuesday with quarterbacks, rookies and select veterans coming off injuries, will be joined on the field by the rest of his teammates in a couple of days. While Flacco acknowledged that his grasp of Kubiak's offense is a work in progress, he vowed that neither he nor his teammates will use the changes as an excuse during training camp.

"I don't care if it's a new offense or not," Flacco said. "I expect to come out here and be precise and operate at a high level. This is where it counts. We've got a couple of weeks, and we're going to be playing real games, and we've got to execute at a high level in order to win those because they're going to come down to little things like that. That's why we can't expect to come out here and make little mistakes. We've got to have that stuff cleaned up, and come out here and operate so that we can translate it to Sunday."


Thursday will mark the start of Flacco's seventh training camp. As he spoke about the coming workouts under the hot sun, the 29-year-old repeatedly used words like "fun" and "exciting."

He spoke positively about his relationship with Kubiak, saying that the offseason work has allowed the two to get a "good feel for each other."

Flacco spent significant time with his family the past couple of weeks, but football was never far from his mind. He kept his arm and body in shape, and he communicated with his receivers, a group he will be seeing regularly starting Thursday.

"You know it's for real now, and I'm excited about it," Flacco said. "Everybody has to focus in, dial in, and I think it's really going to help us get better."

The Ravens made a lot of changes on their roster and coaching staff during the offseason, but the biggest on-field storyline of training camp remains Flacco's ability to pick up Kubiak's West Coast attack, and the offense's chances of bouncing back after a poor 2013 showing.

A year after engineering a Super Bowl run, Flacco was a big part of the group's problems as he threw a franchise-record 22 interceptions and completed just 59 percent of his passes. However, coach John Harbaugh made it clear Tuesday that the focus will be on the offense as a whole, not just Flacco.

"We just have to put it all together as a team," Harbaugh said. "That's what we're trying to do right now. We need to play together well as an offensive line. The backs need to be on the same page in the run game. We need the quarterbacks and receivers to be precise in what they do. That's what we're trying to build right now so that we can execute when the time comes."

Flacco said the team has gone over the initial installation of the offense three different times and it's not the "most complicated thing in the world, but it is different."


More plays will be added to the installation in the days and practices ahead. But the biggest challenge, Flacco acknowledged, is not learning the new verbiage, but forgetting the old.

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"The biggest thing is mentally trying to get rid of all the other stuff that you've known for six years and kind of wipe it out of your mind and start new and get this stuff down as much as possible," he said. "I think all the physical stuff, you kind of come out here and you talk to the coaches about it here and there, you make a couple mistakes, but pretty quickly, we all pick that stuff up after a couple of days of understanding what these coaches want and what they don't want."

Harbaugh said practices won't change too much in terms of the repetitions that the starters will get. He believes that the fast pace of the team's practices will allow the starters to get plenty of work in.

It's also unclear at this point whether Flacco will play more in the preseason to help him gain additional comfort in the new offense before the Ravens' Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Ravens' preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers is a little over two weeks away. That leaves plenty of time for learning, and Flacco knows that it starts with him.

"If I can execute at a high level and show everybody else that they should execute at a high level and they will execute at a high level, I think we'll get that confidence to go out there on Sundays and kind of play with a little bit of swagger," Flacco said. "I think that's what it's going to take."