’LOS ANGELES — Joe Flacco will start Sunday for the Cleveland Browns, who are turning to the veteran quarterback to keep them in the playoff chase.
The 38-year-old Flacco is the fourth QB to start this season for the Browns (7-4).
He was signed two weeks ago after Deshaun Watson underwent shoulder surgery, and Flacco is playing this week against the Los Angeles Rams because rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson remains in concussion protocol after getting hurt in last week’s loss at Denver.
Flacco started all 163 games in which he played in 11 seasons with the Ravens. The Browns are the third team he’s played for since then, following the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.
If Flacco plays well this week, he’ll likely remain Cleveland’s starter for the rest of this season.
It’s a twist for the Browns because Flacco has been successful against them. Flacco went 17-3 against Cleveland with the Ravens, and he beat the Browns last season when he threw four touchdown passes and rallied the Jets to a 31-30 win.
Flacco took all the reps with Cleveland’s starting offense during practice this week at UCLA, and he impressed coaches and teammates despite a long layoff.
“He looks good,” wide receiver Amari Cooper said. “He throws a very pretty ball. I don’t know if it’s intentional or what, but when he drops back and he lets it go, the whole motion is like poetry in motion.”
Flacco has passed for 42,320 yards and 232 touchdowns in 15 seasons. He went unsigned during the offseason but stayed in shape while waiting for a team to call.
The Browns brought him in for a workout a few days after Watson was lost for the season with a shoulder fracture. Cleveland signed him to the practice squad, and coach Kevin Stefanski moved him ahead of P.J. Walker as the backup this week. Walker made two starts when Watson was hurt and replaced Thompson-Robinson against the Broncos.
On Thursday, Flacco said the chance to start again in the NFL was rejuvenating.
“It’s definitely exciting, the idea of it,” Flacco said. “There’s a lot of things about being at this point in my life that make it really exciting even besides just playing the game of football. There’s so many things that add to it now, having young kids and feeling their excitement about it, and when you are away, it puts things in perspective a little bit.”