Ravens believe Ryan Mallett has made the most of his second chance

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ryan Mallett came to the Baltimore Ravens as a discarded quarterback known for his immature behavior. Nearly eight months later, Mallett is the likely starter for the Ravens in Thursday's preseason opener with a new image and the support of an organization.

The Ravens feel their second-string quarterback has made the most of his second chance.

"Ryan has been nothing but a pro," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's been a hard worker. Players like him. He's charismatic. He knows the game. He has talent; there's no question he can throw the football and he can move around. He's got a lot of great football in front of him, and we're happy he's our guy."

Mallett was cut in late October by the Houston Texans after being late for team meetings, pouting after being benched and missing the team charter for a regular-season game in Miami. Baltimore brought in Mallett in December after Joe Flacco tore two knee ligaments and two backups (Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen) proved ineffective.

Just 12 days after being signed, Mallett led the Ravens to an upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But with Flacco healthy again, Mallett is returning to his longtime role as backup.

Mallett will probably fill in for Flacco in the preseason opener, which might be his last snaps with the first-team offense. If Flacco returns to his durable ways -- he had started 122 straight before last year's injury -- Mallett might not get on the field this year beyond the preseason.

"You never know what’s going to happen during the season," Mallett said. "[This] might be my only film to get out there, so it's always important to go out there and try to play your best."

There has been no off-the-field drama with Mallett since he joined the Ravens. The bigger concern with Mallett this year is how he has failed to live up to expectations on the practice field.

Throughout the offseason workouts and the early part of training camp, Mallett has struggled with his accuracy. He has forced throws into coverage and has been picked off frequently, especially in the red zone.

"I think he had a rough patch in the OTAs and all of that, but he's really smoothed it out and he looks good," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be fun to watch him play."

Mallett's focus has been consistency. He has never completed more than 60 percent of his passes in a season, and he's never thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in a season.

"The man is certainly talented and is a really sharp young man as well," quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg said. "When you are trying to get that high-level play every day, day-in and day-out, play-to-play, week-to-week, it takes hard work, preparation and then reps. These reps he is getting in training camp and the reps he will get in preseason will be really important for his development."

Mallett, 28, is on his third team in four seasons. A third-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2011, he was traded to the Texans in 2014.

He started six games for Houston in two seasons before joining Baltimore in December. Mallett put together a commanding performance (28-for-41 for 274 yards and one touchdown) in a win over the Steelers and looked ragged in the finale in Cincinnati (30-of-56 for 292 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions).

Mallett's goal is to become an NFL starter once again.

"I wouldn't play if I didn't want to be a starter," Mallett said. "That's not the situation right now. I understand my role on this team and I'm going to do that to the best of my ability."

Mallett had to prove himself in Baltimore. The Ravens brought him in on a trial period, giving him a two-year contract that maxes out at $2.5 million but contains no guaranteed money.

After Baltimore signed him, Harbaugh was blunt in his assessment, saying, "What he makes of it really, in the end, is up to him."

If Mallett wanted to see any of his money this year, he had to be on his best behavior this year.

"That's the thing about life, football, whatever. It doesn't end at your first mistake," Harbaugh said. "You hae a chance, hopefully, to do the right things. To bounce back. We all grow up."