Flacco has been dealing with a sore back for almost a month, but head coach John Harbaugh said the franchise quarterback will start the regular-season opener in Cincinnati. It's imperative that Flacco shakes off any rust because Baltimore needs to start the season strong to have any chance of ending a two-year playoff drought.
The Ravens, though, have already lost eight players to season-ending injuries. Nonetheless, Harbaugh is confident that Flacco and several key members of the offensive line are ready to make an impact against the Bengals and beyond, despite limited reps in the preseason.
"We are looking forward to putting it all together and seeing all of our guys out there," Harbaugh said. "We've been missing guys pretty much all the way through. A lot of teams have, if you look at who's played, and that sort of thing. But, probably offensively, we have more than most years."
The Ravens are going to need to perform well, especially in the early part of the schedule.
Baltimore has not won in Cincinnati since 2011, so the opener poses a significant challenge. The Ravens' offensive line should be solidified with left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Pro-Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda back and fully ready to play.
Flacco, however, is just 2-6 at Paul Brown Stadium during his career. He has thrown five touchdown passes and 12 interceptions over that stretch.
The Ravens are not focused on those past woes.
"We're going to have all our weapons, Flacco will be back and I think we'll do great," running back Terrance West said. "We need all the pieces."
The early-season schedule does not get much easier after Cincinnati. Baltimore opens at home against Cleveland in Week 2 before traveling to London for the first time to play the Jaguars.
The Ravens then take the long flight home for a big showdown with AFC North rival Pittsburgh at M&T Bank Stadium.
While there are numerous questions surrounding the offense, the Ravens believe their defense can be historically good. Over the four preseason games, Baltimore dominated all four of its opponents and allowed just eight points per game.
If the offense can avoid costly turnovers, then the defense could lead the way for victories. The Ravens also have the best kicker in the game with Justin Tucker, who could be a busy man throughout the year.
"The history of the Ravens shows that you play great defense, you run the ball, you don't turn the ball over, you win, and you'll have a chance at the Super Bowl," safety Eric Weddle said. "We're going to show that and see where it takes us. I think it'll be great."
Notes: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey missed significant practice time with a hamstring injury. However, the rookie first-round pick showed he could be a difference-maker in the final preseason game against the Saints. Humphrey forced a fumble on Saints running back Daniel Lasco and was solid in coverage. As a result, he put himself in position to get significant playing time in the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. "I just wanted to make some type of play today. I was able to make a play, get that excitement going again that I haven't had for a while," he said. ... Cornerback Sheldon Price suffered a concussion against the Saints. He was placed on injured reserve in 2016 with a hamstring injury. Price was facing an uphill battle to make the team and the latest injury will not help his cause.
--Defensive tackle Carl Davis, a third-round pick in 2015, has made a strong case to make the final roster on a deep defensive line. Davis came up with a key interception in the final preseason game against the Saints and has been solid throughout preseason camp. Davis spent 2016 on injured reserve with an ankle injury. ... Defensive tackle Patrick Ricard has been one of the biggest surprises in training camp. The undrafted rookie from Maine has impressed coaches with his work ethic and versatility. In addition to being a solid defender, Ricard has lined up at fullback and thrown some massive blocks. He also blocked a field goal in the final preseason game against the Saints. Ricard could be a key player for the Ravens this season.
--Wide receiver/kick returner Keenan Reynolds hurt his chances to make the final roster when he fumbled a punt in the final preseason game against the Saints. The former Navy quarterback was already behind veteran Michael Campanaro on the depth chart. Reynolds spent all of last season on the practice squad . ... Quarterback Ryan Mallett struggled as the starter with Joe Flacco out with a back injury. In the final preseason game, he completed three of 18 passes for 19 yards with one touchdown. Over the four preseason games, Mallett threw for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (61.5 passer rating).