Ravens, Harbaugh must adjust to life without Flacco
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) For every one of his games as an NFL coach, John Harbaugh has employed Joe Flacco as his starting quarterback.
Now it's time for something completely different.
An MRI on Monday confirmed that Flacco tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee during the final minute of the Baltimore Ravens' 16-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
It's a season-ending injury, so Matt Schaub will start next Monday night for the Ravens (3-7) against the Cleveland Browns (2-8).
Flacco and Harbaugh both made their NFL debut in 2008, Flacco as a rookie starter and Harbaugh as a first-year coach. They worked 122 successive regular-season games together through Sunday.
Counting playoffs, Flacco made 136 straight starts, the most to begin a career by a quarterback in NFL history.
''I don't know how many coaches have had that kind of a run with their quarterback,'' Harbaugh said. ''It's definitely been a great blessing and something I've been very grateful for over the years.''
Harbaugh expects the duo to resume that bond next summer.
''I think it's probably way early and obviously speculative, but indications that I've been given would be that he would be back at the start of training camp,'' Harbaugh said. ''However, as we well know, those are always things that get determined based on how the rehab goes.''
Though Flacco was anything but a scrambler, he has the ability to move in the pocket. He has 654 yards rushing over his career along with 13 touchdown runs.
Harbaugh is confident that won't change when the quarterback returns.
''He's going to certainly have plenty enough athleticism even if there's a little dropoff there,'' Harbaugh said. ''I have every expectation he'll bounce back 100 percent and be stronger than ever and be ready to roll next year.''
The injury occurred after the Ravens recovered a fumble at the St. Louis 41 with 54 seconds left. On first down, Flacco fired an incomplete pass - the last one he would attempt in 2015.
''I got hit right above the knee on my quad after I threw the slant,'' Flacco said. ''My foot just stayed in the ground and kind of got collapsed in and just everything went.''
Two handoffs and a spike followed before Justin Tucker kicked the game-winning field goal.
Flacco's 122 straight starts ranked fifth in NFL history for a quarterback. It is a streak he did not take for granted, and when it ended he did not express anger or grief.
''I've been really fortunate,'' he said after Sunday's game. ''I'm really proud of the fact that I was able to go that long. I wanted to go my whole career without missing anything. It's just the nature of the game. It happens. I just have to go out there, rehab, get back and be stronger.''
Schaub enters with 139 games of NFL experience, but playing behind Flacco is a job that involves watching football on Sundays. The next snap the 34-year-old Schaub takes will be his first of the season on game day.
''He's looked good in practice,'' Harbaugh said. ''He's a veteran. He's been there before.''
Harbaugh expects the Ravens intend to sign a backup for Schaub in the next few days. He said Bryn Renner, who played in the preseason, is a candidate for the practice squad.
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