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It seems to be said every year, but Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is entering a pivotal season.
In Flacco’s fourth year, the organization wants him to take control of the offense. It also wants him to help push the team over the hump and win an AFC North crown and reach the Super Bowl.
The lockout would seem to threaten that progress, as Flacco can’t regularly workout with coaches and teammates during organized team activities and minicamps.
But Flacco literally chuckled at the notion that the lockout was hindering him.
“Our coaches are probably a little worried right now because they don’t have that eye on us,” Flacco said in an interview with FOX 1370′s Jerry Coleman in late April.
“But I think when we come back they’ll see, ‘Oh these guys have been home working hard.’ They’ll see that they can trust us to do it on our own. I guarantee you everybody else on the team is doing the same exact thing [as me] because when we come back, everybody wants to make sure they’re ready to go and ready to win some football games.”
Earlier this offseason, Flacco reportedly flew to Arizona to throw with wide receivers Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin and tight ends Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta. He is also one of 20 to 25 players set to participate in three days of unofficial workouts next week at Towson University.
While not with teammates, Flacco, who set career highs in passing yardage, touchdowns and quarterback rating in 2010, said he’s been part of a “functional training” program in New Jersey.
On his own, Flacco can work out as much as he wants. If he were with the team, it would provide the obvious advantage of being with coaches, but there are also league sanctions that limit practice time.
“I’m going through more of a regimen now than I would be if I was [at the facility],” Flacco said. “When we’re [at the facility], you work out for two hours and do a couple little things on the field and then you go home and sit around all day cause nobody is really here to do anything with.”
Flacco didn’t go into detail about his offseason regimen, but has once again worked in some baseball.
Last offseason, Flacco and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron traveled to the University of Southern California to work with pitching instructor Tom House, fine tuning the quarterback’s accuracy and arm strength. This year, Flacco’s been tossing with his brother, Mike, a minor league baseball player.
“Back at home, you get up early in the morning, you eat breakfast, you go out and work out for a couple hours,” Flacco said. “[Then] you come back, eat lunch, and go throw the ball around. Believe me, I feel like I’m being very productive right now working out.”
While coaches are not allowed to contact players about their offseason workouts, many players have been tweeting about their individual work, including such veterans as Mason, running back Ray Rice, fullback Le’Ron McClain and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Rookie wideout Torrey Smith has also been active about broadcasting his offseason efforts. Flacco was confident that young or practice squad players are working out because they want to impress coaches in an effort to make the team.
“Everybody is going to be working out and being productive back where they feel comfortable doing that,” Flacco said. “I think we’re all going to come back ready to go whenever we do start up.”