As the Browns prepare for their Week 13 matchup against the Rams, there is still some uncertainty in their starting quarterback.
Rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is still in concussion protocol, and the Browns will see how he progresses through the protocol and responds throughout the week. Yet, on Wednesday, HC Kevin Stefanski said that veteran QB Joe Flacco will be the backup quarterback this week.
"No reason to make any decisions just yet. We'll see how it goes," Stefanski said.
Thompson-Robinson did not participate in practice on Wednesday, so Flacco took reps with the first team. It was his first practice with first team reps, as he did not take any first team reps last week in his first week with the team. In the open periods to media throughout the week, Flacco threw to practice squad players and took reps behind both Thompson-Robinson and P.J. Walker last week. Yet, from what Stefanski has seen so far, Flacco looks "good."
Flacco has spent time getting up to speed with the Browns offense, both in the meeting rooms and with the coaches to get prepared. They are working through concepts and finding ways to play to his strengths.
"Joe – big, strong arm," Stefanski said. "Obviously, he can make every throw, but he's done a very nice job in the meeting room, getting to know his teammates, getting to know the assistants. He's done a nice job."
During Flacco's first week, he said he wanted to prove to his new teammates that he belonged and could be part of the team. He's begun to do just that. Stefanski said that these kinds of trips where the team is all together the week leading up to the game can also help foster that time around teammates and getting to know them.
"When you come in and you're a veteran and you've seen a lot, I think young guys certainly can gravitate towards that," Stefanski said. "But I think Joe lets his history speak for itself. He's just trying to be a good teammate."
TE David Njoku remembers last season when Flacco faced the Browns as the quarterback for the Jets. In Week 2 Flacco led the Jets to a 31-30 win over the Browns, as he completed 26 of 44 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns. His longest throw of the game was 66 yards. In that game, Flacco was also sacked twice.
Flacco's success in the league over 16 seasons speaks for itself, from leading the Ravens to a win in Super Bowl XLVII, being named the Super Bowl MVP and then his success against the Browns last season. Njoku said that Flacco is a "long-time legend."
Now being on the same team and spending time around him, Njoku believes that Flacco's 16 seasons of experience in the league, as well as his confidence, will help the Browns. To Njoku, not only in the game against the Browns last season, but even in the first week and a half he's been with the team, has seen Flacco's ability to throw the ball.
"You can tell he's a professional," Njoku said. "He's a vet. He knows how to pick things up very fast. If he's our guy for Sunday, we're going to need that."
Even from the defense, they see just what Flacco brings to the locker room and to the table. They got to see a taste of it on Wednesday.
"He's a veteran," CB Greg Newsome II said. "He's done it for countless number of years. He took teams to the playoffs, Super Bowl, so we already know what to expect when he's on the field. Super excited for him to just be in the building. Just another veteran presence that has gotten to that point and a point that we wish to go to."