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Joe Flacco Has 'Fun' Time Leading Jets' First Offense Against Atlanta

Veteran QB Looks Sharp as He Steps In for Rehabbing Zach Wilson in Joint Practice with Falcons


It was only a training camp practice.

It was an important practice but still just the first joint workout with Atlanta as preparation for the Jets' second preseason game on Monday night against the Falcons.

"It," QB Joe Flacco said, "was fun."

Flacco was talking Friday about his receivers and his offense getting to run a lot of plays, finding a groove and playing against "a little bit different style of defense. You always get goof work when you get to do that."

But the 15th-year quarterback seemed to be having personal fun, as well, getting reps against another NFL team as he took the reins from Zach Wilson, rehabbing his knee injury for the next several weeks.

Here was Flacco hitting WR Elijah Moore for one long completion, then another. There was Flacco rolling out and, to the sounds of "Throw it away, Joe!" from the crowd, threw it instead to rookie WR Garrett Wilson for a sprawling sideline first-down catch. Here was the QB hitting 5-of-5 in the morning's last third-down period, there he was leading an unscripted-period eight-play, 60-yard drive to a TD.

"Listen, anytime you can get more reps, the more comfortable you feel," Flacco said after he'd been running the twos earlier in camp and sat out the Eagles playoff game. "It doesn't matter what year you're in or how many years you've been in an offense. It just helps with confidence, operating at a high level. Coming out here every day with the ones, going against the ones on defense, the more prepared you're going to be, the more confident you're going to be when you take the field."

Nobody doubted it would be any other way for No. 19, adapting at age 37 to another stint as a starter.

"To survive, you've got to evolve your game and find ways to maximize who you are at that moment," head coach Robert Saleh said. "Joe has a wealth of experience. You could argue his best year came in this type of a system back in '14 or whenever it was. He has a very calming effect in the huddle, great command at the line. I'm really excited to have him."

So are the young Jets, who agree with the coach's description of the calming influence of a big cup of Joe.

"He's just very calm and nonchalant," said Moore. "A lot of quarterbacks are maybe very energetic. He's just very controlled, calm. Having him adds swag to it. I'm grateful, for sure."

Flacco told a story about meeting LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed for the first time after he joined the Ravens in 2008.

"It's funny — those guys were just next level," Flacco recalled. "It's just different. You grew up watching them. And I'll never forget the first time Ray said something to me, or the first time I touched Ray's shoulder, just dapping him up, and it was like the hardest surface I've ever touched in my life."

Moore and his skill-position mates weren't reaching out and touching Flacco like he was a rock idol, yet the second-year wideout echoed some of his QB's words: "I've watched him my whole life. When he got here [last midseason], I was kind of amazed it was him. You hear some of the guys on the sideline say, 'Man, that's Joe Flacco.' "

But as this story detailed up top, it was nothing to get too excited about. Flacco had a good training camp practice. He'll start the one or two remaining preseason games and then we'll see if he starts any regular-season games. The ball will still go back to Zach when the second-year starter is ready to step back under center.

Still, it's nice to know the Jets offense remains in good hands, however old the QB's body they're attached to.

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