For the first time n the Joe Flacco-era, the Baltimore Ravens will head into their mini-camps with four quarterbacks on their roster. In Flacco's rookie year of 2008, the team had him behind both Kyle Boller and Troy Smith. In 2009, it was Flacco and Boller. The 2010 season saw Joe backed up by Mark Bulger and John Beck, and last year he had Tyrod Taylor and Hunter Cantwell in the early part of the spring and summer.
Now, along with the four-year veteran, Joe still has Tyrod Taylor as his main backup, but the team signed former Indianapolis Colts 2011 starter Curtis Painter and just signed Florida QB John Brantley as an undrafted rookie free agent. It's obvious the Ravens have no inclination to keep four quarterbacks on their final roster and might not even keep three, as they only had two for all of the 2011 season.
However, the additional arms in the spring and summer, especially through Training Camp, will keep the number of throws that Flacco will have to make, at a reasonable amount to preserve it for the regular season. It also brings additional competition for Taylor, the second year backup. Tyrod barely stepped on the playing field during the 2011 season, but got enough reps in practice and watched a ton of film to learn the team's playbook.
Flacco has not only started every game since his rookie season, he has proved that he can take a hit and stay injury-free. He is one of the most durable QB's in the entire league and has taken almost every snap all four years. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says he has all the confidence in the world in Taylor in the event Flacco went down to injury, but the signings show that Tyrod better not get overly comfortable thinking he is set in stone at the backup position.
Competition is always good and while it appears that Taylor will most likely continue as Flacco's backup, don't be surprised if the team keeps at least one more QB through the end of the pre-season and perhaps even on the Practice Squad once the regular season begins. For now, however, there are more than enough arms to save the wear and tear on Joe Flacco as the team heads into the mini-camps and OTA's before Training Camp opens in late-July.