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Joe Flacco to play in first preseason game since 2016

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco has dealt with two major injuries over the past two and half seasons. In Week 11 of 2015, Flacco tore his ACL in the waning minutes of a victory over the then St. Louis Rams, ending his season. While he missed the majority of the 2016 NFL preseason, he returned for the entirety of the regular season. Flacco injured his back during the 2017 offseason and missed the all of last year’s preseason.

The 33-year-old quarterback will now play in a preseason game for the first time since he appeared against the Detroit Lions in August of 2016. Ironically enough, Flacco will face the team that he injured his knee against, the Los Angeles Rams.

Baltimore just concluded two consecutive days of joint practice with the Rams in Owings Mills, Maryland. For Flacco, this is a big test to get back into the swing of things against a Los Angeles defense now featuring Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.

“It’s tough, really, what to make of it, but I think it is a good test,” Flacco said after the first joint practice on Monday. “It’s always good to go against some different guys. You get used to going against your defense and seeing what they do every day. It’s good to see something else.”

Flacco found John Brown on multiple play-action passes, but the offensive line collapsed on him a couple of times. The physical play continued on the outside with Willie Snead IV and Nickell Robey-Coleman battling for the football. Each player, whether it was an offensive lineman, defensive lineman or a skill position player, contributed to the physicality in the practice.

“You’re always just feeling each other out at the beginning part,” said Flacco of the Rams and Ravens battles on Monday. “You expect, when there’s a different team, you expect them to come out here and be physical. You expect it to be a little more physical than your normal practice.”

His biggest goal for Thursday’s game is to carry over the momentum from his practices against Los Angeles. There were some good plays and some that just did not measure up. Specifically, Flacco made an overthrow to Nick Boyle, which resulted in a Rams interception. Though that play was not the result they wanted, it gave the Ravens the opportunity to emulate game situations.

“It’s a unique experience to practice against someone and take that for a few days and go play against them,” Flacco said. “Do you come out here and treat it like a normal practice? What do you do? I think we just came out here and did our thing today. Hey — it’s a preaseason game — No. 1 really. It’ll be a good test, and this might just really add to that test we have on Thursday.”

With that being said, Flacco and his receivers have had a strong camp so far. There have not been as many mental errors from the group. The offense looks to have diversified the way that they attack the field. Flacco is at the head of that offense for his 11th season as he tries to bounce back from his 2017 regular season performance marred by his back injury.

“Listen, I think we’ve had a really good camp so far,” said Flacco of he and his offensive teammates. “I’m really confident in our group of guys and how we’re going to go out there and perform. I think we have a bunch of gamers and we’re ready to go.”

The Ravens will play in their first home preseason game on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET against Los Angeles.