LOS ANGELES — Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson remained in concussion protocol Thursday, making it even more likely Joe Flacco will start Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
The 38-year-old Flacco signed as a free agent with Cleveland last week as an insurance policy in case Thompson-Robinson struggled or got injured. The fifth-round pick suffered a concussion in the third quarter of last week’s loss in Denver.
Flacco didn’t dress for that game and is still on the Browns practice squad. But with Thompson-Robinson not yet cleared, Flacco appears to be in line to become the fourth QB to start in 12 games for Cleveland this season.
Flacco took the majority of reps with Cleveland’s starting offense for the second straight day in practice at UCLA. Thompson-Robinson hasn’t been ruled out yet.
On Wednesday, coach Kevin Stefanski said Flacco had moved into the backup role ahead of P.J. Walker, who made two starts earlier this season when Deshaun Watson was dealing with a shoulder injury.
Flacco at least gives the Browns (7-4) an experienced QB who has led a team to the playoffs and Super Bowl title. Last week, Flacco, who had been home in New Jersey waiting for a team to call, said he believes he can still play at a high level.
After observing Flacco in practice, Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt is sure he can perform.
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“I think there’s still a lot left in that tank,” Van Pelt said.
Flacco has passed for 42,320 yards in 15 NFL seasons, 11 with the Ravens, who drafted him in the first round out of Delaware in 2008. While he might not be the same quarterback who led the Ravens to the top, Van Pelt said Flacco can still sling the football around.
“He has an elite arm. There’s no question,” Van Pelt said. “If you put it on a scale of one to five, I’d say he is a five. His ball flight, his velocity on the ball at every level of the field is very impressive.”
Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett didn’t practice for the second day in a row because of a left shoulder injury. He worked on the side and is expected to play Sunday.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is getting several different plans ready dependent on Garrett’s availability.
“We’ll be prepared if he’s not able to make it, we’ll be prepared if he’s able to go and play every single snap in the game,” Schwartz said. “We’ll be prepared if he just has a certain role in the game. He feels a tremendous amount of responsibility to be on the field. He’s wired that way.”
Garrett has 13 sacks and is having perhaps his best season while leading Cleveland’s top-ranked defense.