With minicamp recently coming to a close, Baltimore Ravens fans are now just five weeks away from the start of training camp. This means preseason action will also be starting soon. People are very mixed about the preseason; some think its boring, pointless and it flat out doesn't matter, while others think its a fun way to see players gel with a new team and see guys who nobody thought experience a chance of making a team suddenly stand out and deserve a spot on the 53-man roster. For the Baltimore Ravens, the 2016 preseason could be very important as the team has a lot of players coming back from injuries and will need some reps to shake the rust off and get back into the swing of things. The most important player coming back from injury is quarterback Joe Flacco.
Flacco did not participate at all during OTA's and minicamp as backup quarterback Ryan Mallett handled the first team reps. Flacco should be back for the start of training camp, but there are some who believe that Flacco should not play in the preseason and not risk re-injuring his recently repaired knee. While I understand the argument that you don't want to risk Flacco getting hurt during a game that doesn't count, he should take some reps during the preseason.
The Ravens possess new receivers like Ben Watson, Mike Wallace, rookie Chris Moore, and the returning Breshad Perriman, playing their first preseason's in a Ravens uniform and it is important that Flacco gets in a couple of series with these potential playmakers to develop chemistry in the preseason so that it eventually pays off when the games really count. No matter how many times Flacco practices with them during training camp, the true tests come during a live game when the opposing players are trying to jam you and disrupt the timing of the pass. If Flacco skips the preseason entirely and doesn't get any in game action with these new receivers, you may see a very rusty and ugly passing game for not just opening day against The Buffalo Bills, but for the beginning of the regular season, which could also mean a slow start to the 2016 campaign. Potentially hurting the team's playoff chances down the road.
I mentioned at the beginning about the players returning from injury needing to get back into the swing of things. Part of that process is taking some hits and being inserted back into "life in the NFL." Even though he is the franchise and the quarterback of this team, Flacco must take some hits. Whether its in the pocket or outside the pocket, Flacco must be able to take some shots from the opposing defenses during the preseason and have his "life in the NFL" moment. Then be able to get back up and show that the knee is fine and that Flacco will still keep on fighting like the tough son of a gun that he is. Even if the hits come from rookie Ronnie Stanley's left tackle position. Stanley and Flacco must learn to communicate with one another on different cadences, audibles, and be able to work together to help the rookie make the offensive line as good as it was 2 years ago. They can both benefit greatly from that in preseason action.
The preseason might not mean much, but for Joe Flacco and the Ravens, it does matter. Maybe more so then ever before.