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Tune in Monday night for Episode One of the Joe Flacco Show. Ray Rice says he'll be watching.
The Ravens stud runner this week extolled the virtues of his quarterback, saying, "The quiet Joe phase is pretty much over."
Rice said Thursday via The Baltimore Sun:
In pecking order, this is Joe’s offense, then everybody else. And he’s proven that this preseason with how he’s played, his tempo, how vocal he is...He’s been outspoken—and I guess you guys get to see it more going into Year 5—but for me and him, we came in together, and I think he’s going to prove to everybody why he’s a top quarterback in the league. And going into this game, I’m confident, he’s confident.
These words by themselves wouldn't do much to convince me that Flacco is a mighty fine Week 1 play against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Ravens, however, are one of the few teams that showed a few new wrinkles in August, airing it out in an aggressive no-huddle attack that kept defenders on their heels against a passing game boosted by second-year speed merchant Torrey Smith.
Smith isn't the guy you remember. He's expanded his route running beyond the good old go pattern, and Flacco so clearly trusts him on intermediate routes and the deep stuff. As long as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and head coach John Harbaugh keep the chains off of Flacco in 2012, I expect elite numbers from the fifth-year starter.
Now to the Week 1 matchup. The Bengals enter this season all kinds of banged up on defense after shutting down offenses for much of 2011.
Rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick won't play against the Ravens, nor will defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap. Cincy defensive end Robert Geathers is very iffy for Monday night. His absence would leave the Bengals defense short two of its best pass-rushers—good news for Flacco.
Listen to Rice and play Flacco with confidence this week and throughout the season.