Added pressure doesn't faze Joe Flacco

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is the reigning Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. He is among the highest paid players in the league.

But, if you think this puts more pressure on Flacco, you're mistaken.

"I can't really complain at this point," Flacco said after his first practice of training camp. "We won last year. I have a lot of money. And we're going to win football games. That's the way it is around here and that's what we're going to get used to. And that's what we want to be used to -- is winning football games. We're not going to apologize for acting like we're a good football team. Yeah, our expectations are high. We don't care if that comes with pressure. We expect to win."

If there is one aspect of this game that you can't question about Flacco, it's his ability to handle pressure. He went to the AFC Championship game as a rookie. He's led a last-minute game-winning drive against the rival Steelers in Pittsburgh. And, after turning down an extension before last season, he guided the Ravens to a Super Bowl triumph with his payday on the line. In this era where finances and football go hand in hand, that's the very definition of excelling under pressure.

But Super Bowl MVPs have had trouble following up their success. Of the past five quarterbacks who have won the award (Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers), only Rodgers improved his passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating the next year.

Some suggest there will be more responsibility placed on Flacco's shoulders because of the $120.6 million contract and the leadership void left by Ray Lewis' retirement.

"I'm always a leader. I'm not going to change my role," Flacco said. "We don't have Ray Lewis here anymore. Me and him are probably different in terms of how we lead anyway. I'm not going to change what I do at all just because I make more money. That has nothing to do with leading a football team. I'm going to go out there and play well and lead by example. We're going to be a good football team because of it."