Late For Work 1/20: Harbaugh: Flacco Played Through Pain

Plus Harbaugh hopes Mason and Reed return, Hue Jackson in demand and new endorsers.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 at 9:52 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Harbaugh: Flacco Played Through Pain

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh spoke to the media for nearly 40 minutes yesterday, responding to 43 questions from Baltimore media. There were several nuggets of information to come out of the season-ending press conference, including these highlights on important issues facing the Ravens:

Harbaugh said Joe Flacco showed toughness playing though pain from a thigh contusion for five to six weeks.

Question: There was a report last week that Flacco was in so much pain on the way back from Oakland that he couldn’t sit down. Can you confirm that or elaborate on that at all?

Harbaugh: “I don’t know. It was a six-hour flight, and I saw him sitting down, so I think he was able to sit down. Joe fought through some… He had a bad contusion on his thigh, on the outside of his thigh and hip area there, and it swelled up legitimately so. I think it was restrictive for him. If any of you guys have had that kind of a serious bruise, you know how much that hurts. There’s a former player right back here shaking his head. Right? You know how much that hurts. You get on a flight, and that’s when swelling starts to happen a little bit more. I think Joe showed some real toughness throughout the last five, six weeks playing through that.”

Both Harbaugh and Flacco had acknowledged the injury prior to yesterday’s press conference, but maintained that the quarterback was capable and prepared to play in games. Tuesday marked the first time Harbaugh explained how much pain Flacco endured.

Flacco never missed a game this season. On Monday, the quarterback said he didn’t believe the injury affected his performance late in the season, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Harbaugh said he wants both Ed Reed and Derrick Mason to return rather than retire.

Question: What is your level of optimism with Ed Reed and Derrick Mason coming back for another year?

Harbaugh: “[Derrick is] an unrestricted free agent. We have to see how that plays out over the next couple of months. We’ve told Derrick that we want him back, we want him on this football team, and we’re going to do everything we can to keep him on this football team for next year.

“Ed Reed, obviously, is a different situation contractually, but Ed knows that we want him back, and that I want him back. He’s a huge part of our defense. He’s a very important player – not just from a football ability standpoint, but from a leadership standpoint – on this team. He’s a premier player in the National Football League, and we want him back. And right now, I expect them both to be back, but we’ll just have to see how that plays out, and ultimately, it’s going to be up to them.”

Harbaugh said he doesn’t anticipate much change in free agency other than retaining current Ravens players because of the final eight rule.

Question: Is it a challenge, with being a top eight team, going into next year with the possibility of an uncapped year?

Harbaugh: “Well, yeah, there’s a balancing act there, because there aren’t going to be as many opportunities for the top eight teams to sign unrestricted free agents. By the same token, there aren’t going to be as many unrestricted free agents available as there would have been under the old system. So, I’m not sure how many free agents are really going to be out there.”

Harbaugh said “he can’t read the future” regarding running back Willis McGahee and defensive end Trevor Pryce.

Question: Pryce and McGahee have higher price tags for next year. Do you envision keeping both of them this next season?

Harbaugh: “I can’t read the future, so I don’t know how that’s going to shake out. I think those are conversations we’re going to have over the next months, and specifically, next week when we have our personnel meetings. But, from a football coach’s standpoint, I know one thing: They make our team better, and that’s a pretty good place to be with those two guys on your team.”

Harbaugh said it will be interesting to see if any changes occur in his coaching staff.

Question: Do you anticipate any changes on your coaching staff?

Harbaugh: “Well, I think it’ll be interesting to see. We’ve got great coaches, so it’s a great question, and I think that guys are going to have opportunities, probably, to do some things – to move up and improve their position professionally and have some more responsibility. And if that happens, we’ll be really happy for them, but right now, we don’t have anything brewing right now.”

ESPN reported yesterday that there may indeed be an opportunity for Ravens quarterback coach Hue Jackson in Oakland. The Raiders asked and received permission to interview Jackson, but the position is unspecified. It could be head coach, offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach to help develop former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell.

Oher, Heap Take on Endorsements

AirTran Airways announced that Ravens rookie Michael Oher will join tight end Todd Heap as an endorser of the airline, according to the company website.

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