Perhaps the first week of training camp was a wakeup call for Ryan Mallett.
Either way, the Ravens backup quarterback has a chance to make a good impression when they begin the preseason Thursday against Washington, and put aside an ugly start to training camp and perhaps some persistent rumors.
With Joe Flacco out with a back problem, Mallett has gotten the work with the Ravens ones, and he’ll play “pretty extensively” Thursday.
“How much that ends up being probably will be determined,” coach John Harbaugh said, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. “We’ll have a plan, but during the game, I’ll probably have to get a sense of that and how I feel about it. But yes, it’s an opportunity for Ryan to get ready.
“He’s had that chance before last year in the offseason before Joe got back for training camp. Those reps are really huge for a quarterback. He’ll want to make the most of all those reps with the ones and we’ll just see where it goes from there.”
This isn’t the first time Mallett’s had a chance to step in, but he’s 29 years old, and past the point of being a young and developmental prospect. And the signs early in camp this year weren’t encouraging, including a five-interception day. Things have improved since then, but he knows more will be expected of him.
The continued unemployment of Colin Kaepernick is also a factor, as there has been some level of interest (at least within some levels of the Ravens organization). And Mallett’s well aware of that chatter as well, whether he’ll say so or not.
“Every day, I’m just trying to get better, trying to get in better sync with my team, better timing,” Mallett said. “I’ve got tunnel vision. I’m not really worried about what’s going on outside of this building.
“It’s training camp. I think it’s practice eight or nine. So every day, we’re just trying to get better, trying to get more cohesive, get our timing down. So I think we’re coming along.”
If he turned in a good performance Thursday, it might ease some of the pressure on his own job. But if he struggles, it might only lead to more talk about Kaepernick, whether Flacco’s back problem is a short-term issue or not. The Ravens insist their starter is going to be fine, but as we approach the two-week mark of his absence, the questions linger.