Flacco flashes skills in return to camp

OWINGS MILLS -- Joe Flacco kept his arm in shape by throwing to a few familiar targets last week during his forced hiatus from the Baltimore Ravens' training complex. Due to an NFL-NCAA regulation that prevented him from practicing until the University of Delaware completed its academic schedule, the rookie quarterback stayed sharp by firing spirals to his family.

"I took my dad and my brother out and tried to place them where the routes would be and go through my dropbacks and throw to them," Flacco said Wednesday upon his return to team headquarters. "I tried to get my workouts to stay in shape and I got my head in the playbook and tried to learn as much as possible without having the coaches around and being able to sit down and watch film with them.

"It was a little frustrating. I did as much as I could back at home, but it's not like I came up with the rule. I did what I had to do and now I'm glad I'm back."

When asked if his father ran good routes, Flacco replied: "Well, he's getting a little old, so we would just kind of place him in an area."

The first-round draft pick displayed some signs of rust, but also flashed his powerful arm. One sideline toss was accurate, but had so much heat on it that the football glanced off wide receiver Derrick Mason's fingertips.

Flacco surprised the defense with a quarterback keeper around the left for a long gain.

"I've got to learn to get out of bounds as quick as possible," he said.

The Ravens don't appear to be concerned about the time Flacco missed.

"I don't know if you can ever judge if you missed a step or not because it's so early yet," coach John Harbaugh said. "This is his really his start point. He did a nice job and we're excited to have him."

The biggest challenge for Flacco is absorbing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's intricate playbook.

"I feel a lot better this time around than I did in the minicamp," Flacco said. "They threw a lot at us and it got to a certain point where I was like, 'Whew, what's going on?' Right now, they're kind of installing it a little slower for us and I think I'm really benefiting from it.

"You can't replace coming out here and running a play. Once you come out here and experience it, then it's easy to go back into the classroom and learn from it."

Cameron said that he has simplified the plays for Flacco, tailoring schemes to mirror what he ran in college to ease his transition to the NFL.

"We've always done that with young quarterbacks so they really don't have to perform and learn at the same time so much," Cameron said. "A lot of the stuff he's doing he should be able to perform at a high level because it's stuff he's done in college. Once he gets his feet on the ground and starts to learn NFL defenses, then we start demanding more in terms of what we want to do different than what he did in college."

INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Demetrius Williams returned to practice after missing time last week with a sore Achilles' tendon.

He caught a 50-yard pass from Kyle Boller, dashing between defensive backs Corey Ivy and Jim Leonhard.

"I feel a little bit rusty, but it's a great feeling to get back out there and be healthy again," Williams said. "I'm getting my legs back after being out last week, but it's coming back to me."

Oft-injured outside linebacker Dan Cody (foot) returned to practice, participating in several drills without incident. The Ravens are considering using him as a situational pass rusher.

"It's tough because we've had great expectations around here for Dan," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "With the injuries, unfortunately, he's never been able to get on the field to really show everybody what he's got. Right now, we've got him with his hand in the dirt.

"He's rushing the passer, and he looks fantastic to me. When he's healthy, this guy can really play. He's healthy now, and hopefully, knock on everything, he stays that way."

Tight end Daniel Wilcox (toe surgery) and cornerback David Pittman (foot) performed a few individual drills.

Offensive tackle Adam Terry (ankle surgery) was limited, and linebacker Mike Smith (shoulder) didn't practice.

QUICK HITS: Troy Smith delivered a 50-yard strike to tight end Todd Heap, but overthrew Yamon Figurs. … Boller was intercepted by cornerback Derrick Martin. ... The Ravens had referees at practice, and Frank Walker was flagged for pass interference in the end zone. Fabian Washington disputed the call, exclaiming: "Kiss my [butt]!" … Ryan delivered a funny line about aggressive rookie safeties Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura, who have a background in boxing and judo, respectively. "We call them the mixed martial arts safeties," Ryan said. "We might not be able to cover anybody, but we're going to beat up somebody. They're doing really good." ... Quarterbacks, rookies and selected veterans will be required to report to training camp in Westminster on July 21 with the entire team beginning practice a few days later.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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