Flacco steps in for Jets, ready to show he can still do job
NEW YORK (AP) - Joe Flacco ran through most of the training camp and was unable to scramble or throw passes during practice.
The 35-year-old New York Jets quarterback could only wait to see how his rehabilitation stayed on track after an off-season neck surgery.
"It was obviously frustrating and boring to sit around during training camp and everything," said Flacco, "and not really be able to practice, even though I felt like I could do a lot of the things we were doing."
But now he's here, preparing to face the Arizona Cardinals this week after a sprained shoulder put Sam Darnold on hold for at least one game.
"Just getting out during training was a lot of fun," he said. “You feel like a little kid again if you just go out and play soccer, so I take it day in and day out and try to keep myself calm, but make sure you want that excitement to show through a bit. I don't know if anyone can ever see that in me, but it's definitely there. "
Flacco admitted he felt "a bit of butterflies" as he got ready to practice as the Jets starter for the first time Wednesday. That's pretty remarkable considering he played in the NFL for 13 years and won on the league's biggest stage - he received the Super Bowl MVP award for Baltimore in 2013.
Despite all this, Flacco's path in the past few months has not been easy. But with the Jets 0-4 and tough fighting, Flacco's resilience could be just what they need.
"He's definitely won the respect of his team-mates for working so hard," said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “He definitely has a Jersey toughness and a Jersey edge that can be an intimidating factor. When he goes to the practice field, you can see all of these competitive juices coming out. "
The New Jersey native Audubon was definitely there and did it as a professional.
He was a first-round draft pick of the Delaware Ravens in 2008, started as a rookie and held that job until 2018 - when a hip injury paved the way for Lamar Jackson to take over. Flacco was traded to Denver the following off-season, but his run with the Broncos only lasted eight games due to a neck injury.
Flacco wanted to continue his football career, so in April he decided to have an operation to repair the herniated disc in his neck.
"If I didn't play," he said, "I wouldn't be sitting here with a scar on my neck."
Flacco signed with the Jets in May, spent training camp on the list of physically inefficient players and made his first active game list last Thursday night - when he was forced to replace Darnold for a few games. Any concerns about scoring his first goal in the game since the operation were quickly replaced by focusing on executing the crime.
"When I got into the game the other day, just the suddenness of the situation, the little nerves you have to go into the game and do well, has overtaken any concern you might have about your injuries or anything," he said. "I honestly haven't thought about it at all and I haven't thought about it since.
"Yeah, I'm sure my family and things like that are thinking about it, but you know I made that decision when I went under the knife, that this is something I would do and it is what it is . "
Flacco believes he can still be an NFL starter, and he'll get a chance to prove it when he takes the field for the Jets on Sunday.
It could just be a cameo for a game, or it could be a longer audition - for New York or another team - depending on how Darnold's shoulder feels.
"I'm sure people have opinions on these things, but I'm looking forward to getting out and playing football," said Flacco. “I think I still have a lot left. I want to go out there and show my teammates that I can play and I want to be there for them. "
NOTES: LT Mekhi Becton (shoulder) and WR Breshad Perriman (ankle) have both trained and are unlikely to play on Sunday. RB Frank Gore was outside too, but it was his usual veterans day. ... CB Bless Austin (calf), S. Ashtyn Davis (groin), DL John Franklin-Myers (foot), WR Chris Hogan (ribs / knees) and LB Jordan Jenkins (shoulder / calf) were all limited. Franklin-Myers has been added to the injury report, which means he was likely injured in training on Thursday. Jenkins was an upgrade after not exercising on Wednesday.
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