Flacco "will return to practice in the preseason, but he is not expected to play in these games," the Ravens announced in a statement Friday. The organization avoided specifying when in the four-week-long preseason he'll actually return to practice.
Most importantly, Baltimore announced the plan is for Flacco to be the Week 1 starting quarterback on Sept. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The organization said Flacco's back injury, which has kept him out of action since the start of training camp, has been re-examined and the progress "is good." This is mildly positive news for the Ravens, who were initially facing a three-to-six week timeframe and then were without a timetable for Flacco five days ago. Baltimore at least now has a general idea of when the quarterback will be ready.
Perhaps more importantly, the statement eases concerns surrounding a Ravens team that has been decimated by injuries, with the paramount being Flacco. With the starter out, the focus has turned to uninspiring backup Ryan Mallett, leading it to shift further into Baltimore's options in free agency. Perhaps the announcement, rife with nonspecific statements, was made to help alleviate potential concerns about the quarterback situation.
For what it's worth, Mallett "played winning football" in preseason action Thursday, per coach John Harbaugh. Plus, Flacco will be back to practice at some point before Week 1. Everything is fine; nothing to see here.