BALTIMORE -- Matt Schaub is the latest next man up in a season full of them for the Ravens.
The 11-year veteran will be the Ravens starting quarterback, presumably for the final six games of the season, after Joe Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury in the closing seconds of the Ravens’ 16-13 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
“I hate the circumstances it comes under, but I’m excited for the opportunity,“ said Schaub, who has made 90 career NFL starts.
Flacco’s injury is just the latest for the decimated Ravens, which also lost starting running back Justin Forsett to a season-ending broken arm earlier in the game. They will join starters Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith Sr., Jeremy Zuttah and a host of others on the sideline for the rest of the year.
Schaub signed a one-year contract with the Ravens this offseason, giving the Ravens a veteran presence should anything happen to Flacco. That seemed unlikely; Flacco, in his eighth season, has never missed a game, and Schaub has yet to play a down this season.
But that’s about to change, and the Ravens offense is now in his hands.
“When you play in this game and you’re in this role, that’s the nature of it,” Schaub said. “You’re one play away at any point, whether it’s in the middle of a game or at the end, or getting ready for next week. I understand that as good as anyone.”
Schaub, a third-round draft pick in 2004 out of Virginia, played three years with the Falcons and then spent seven seasons with the Texans before playing with Oakland last season. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2012. In 2009, Schaub set career highs with 4,770 passing yards and 29 touchdowns.
Last year as a backup in Oakland, he threw just 10 passes all season, going 5-for-10 with two interceptions. One of those was returned for a touchdown, a problem that has plagued Schaub later in his career. In 2013, he set a dubious NFL record with a “pick six” in four straight games, which ultimately led to his benching with the Texans.
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Now he’s an NFL starter again.
“I’m looking forward to getting to work this week and get ready for Cleveland,” Schaub said.
The Ravens players, while expressing shock over Flacco’s injury, also expressed confidence in Schaub.
“We throw every day together,” tight end Crockett Gillmore said. “We’re the first two out there and the last two out there. I’m very comfortable with Matt.”
Said cornerback Jimmy Smith: “I think he’s going to go out and perform how we want him to. I have no doubt about it. I see him in practice every day, and I’m absolutely sure he can get the job done.”
Kicker Justin Tucker said, “That old adage really rings true in these times. When there’s a next man up, he’s just got to step up, He’s got to step to the plate. And we’re going to let Matt Schaub drive up to hopefully a lot more wins here.”