ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco finished his first training camp practice with his new team Thursday, he made it clear he sees his 12th season in the league as a fresh start, a second chance and a potential “take that” season all in one.
It was the first time Flacco entered an NFL training camp as anything other than the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. The 34-year-old veteran, however, has big plans after a pre-draft trade led him to join the Broncos.
Has the change rejuvenated him?
“It’s tough to say that without almost putting yourself down for the last couple years of your career,” Flacco said. “There is an energy about coming here and an excitement that I feel being with this new team and getting another chance of being a starting quarterback. I don’t think you can ever take that for granted. … I’m definitely excited about it.”
Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway has consistently said he likes to acquire veteran players with chips on their shoulders — as he has shown with Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib in previous seasons. Elway, who sent a fourth-round pick to the Ravens in the trade, believes that Flacco can be another potential success story.
“Any time you get traded midway in your career or two-thirds of the way through your career, you’ve got something to prove,” Elway said Wednesday.
Flacco was replaced by Lamar Jackson after suffering a hip injury in November and didn’t get the starting job back after he returned.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt [I’ve got something to prove],” Flacco said. “Listen, I think I’ve got a lot left in the tank. And I feel like I can do a lot more than I’ve shown in my 11-year career. I’m excited about that.”
Also excited is receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has come up with a new nickname for the veteran quarterback.
“Flacco’s a baller,” Sanders said Thursday. “I think we’re going to be OK. I like the way he spins it. … I call him, ‘Pretty Boy’ Flacco. That’s his name. He’s just smooth.”
Although the Broncos used a second-round draft pick on quarterback Drew Lock, coach Vic Fangio and Elway have each said that Flacco is the unquestioned starter. Flacco took all of the work with the first-team during the first on-field work session of training camp Thursday.
Flacco said his family has settled into the Denver area and joked his daughter has already decked herself out in plenty of Broncos gear. He also joked when asked about a conversation with Elway and Lock during practice.
“I grew up watching John Elway,” Flacco said. “And while we’re kind of colleagues now on the field, there’s still that little bit of kid in you — man, John Elway’s standing right next to you. So you try to act as normal as possible and shoot the breeze. … I think it’s a really cool opportunity.
“Listen, I know John’s the man around here. Hopefully there’s room for a couple more people.”