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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Thu., Aug. 13, 2015 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM PDT
Sat., Aug. 22, 2015 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM PDT
Flacco Aims to Make Own Name for Himself in San Diego
The name “Flacco” has been popular in the NFL for the last six years, especially over the past 17 months after quarterback Joe Flacco guided the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory.
After taking an uncommon path to the pros, his younger brother Michael is looking to make his own name for himself as a tight end for the San Diego Chargers. He knows he has a long way to go before he is known as more than just Joe’s younger brother, but he is willing to put the work in.
“This year was my first year as a tight end,” he said. “I’ve never played with guys as big as this so that will be an adjustment. There are some great guys to work with here. Guys like Antonio Gates. I’m going to do my best not to annoy them but I will make the most of being around them on the field, watching tape and every time we’re together. I’ll see what they’re doing and try to imitate them.”
Flacco agreed to terms with the Bolts in the hours immediately following the NFL Draft. At 27 he is the oldest of all Chargers rookies by at least three years, and is actually the second oldest tight end on the roster. Still, he considers himself extremely raw having played just one year of college football.
“The Chargers showed serious interest in me right after the draft,” he explained. “They see some potential in me. They realize I may take a little bit of work, but hopefully I’ll be a quick learner and we’ll see what happens. I need to get stronger and put a couple more pounds on. But the biggest thing will be learning the plays. If I know where I have to go without thinking too much, that will give me the best chance. I like to catch passes like any tight end does, but if I’m going to make this team I need to be a good blocker as well. And I know I will need to contribute on special teams too.”
While admittedly raw, Flacco possesses a unique skillset. At 6-5, 251-pounds he is an athletic weapon and big target for his quarterback. In his sole year at New Haven, he recorded 30 catches for 591 yards (19.7 yards per reception) and nine touchdowns. Flacco spent the previous four years playing baseball for the minor league affiliates of the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles as a first and third baseman. Even though he says the two sports are extremely different, he believes he learned a lot that will translate from the diamond to the gridiron.
“I’m a little older so I’m a little more mature than the average rookie,” he said. “And I’ve been around professional organizations and been a part of teams. I’ve been around different personalities and learned how to (acclimate) to a locker room quickly. That’s important. Other than that, football is a lot more physical with bigger guys.”
The tight end plans to immerse himself in the Chargers culture, but he believes he has a leg up as his older brother gave him valuable tips on how to succeed in the NFL.
“My brother was really happy for me,” he recalled. “He was excited I got a team to play for and told me to just relax. Don’t be too nervous because you’re not going to play well if you’re not relaxed. He told me tips he looks for with guys and their routes. He stressed learning the playbook is really important because I have a responsibility to be where the quarterback trusts me to be. He also told me how to get separation at the right time and to learn where I need to go. His biggest thing was telling me to come in here and get comfortable because if I’m not comfortable I won’t perform well enough.”
The Chargers visit the Ravens on Nov. 30, and while a Flacco vs. Flacco matchup would be special, the tight end has a bigger goal in mind.
“That would be exciting, but really I’m focused on being on the team for the season opener,” he said. “That is what would get me really pumped. That’s my focus. At the end of the day I’ve got to go out and play football, and earn my way onto this team.”