Will Ravens' Joe Flacco be ready at start of 2016 season?

BALTIMORE -- The loss of quarterback Joe Flacco won't affect the Baltimore Ravens' postseason hopes this season. At 3-7, the Ravens have a better shot at top-five pick than a playoff berth.

The bigger question is whether the Ravens will have Flacco in 2016 when they look to rebound from one of the most disastrous seasons in franchise history.

“I have no idea at this point," Flacco said about a half hour after tearing two knee ligaments. "We just have to see what we can do and get back as quick as possible, but I have no idea.”

While there are no guarantees, it's reasonable to target Flacco for the start of the season, according to ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell.

That said, there are nuances to the injury that are unknown. Doctors can surgically repair Flacco's medial collateral ligament or they can opt to let that ligament scar over to avoid a procedure before proceeding to the ACL. So, this all affects the overall timetable, Bell said.

What helps Flacco's case for returning at the start of next season is he's not a scrambler. He doesn't have the same agility demands of a running back or wide receiver dealing with the same injury.

Flacco's recovery schedule ultimately comes down to how he heals and if he can avoid setbacks. There could be concern about how much Flacco can do when training camp begins in late July, but the likely projection is he'll be ready to start the 2016 season or close to it, according to Bell.

Flacco was hurt with 50 seconds left in Sunday's 16-13 win. Backup left tackle James Hurst was pushed back by the Rams' Matt Longacre, and he fell into the side of Flacco's left knee.

"I’ve done my MCL a couple of times, and I knew it was a lot worse than that," Flacco said. "I felt a lot of crunches and stuff like that. I felt a lot of stuff.”

The recovery period for ACL reconstruction is generally six to nine months. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tore his ACL and MCL in the 2008 season opener, returned to practice nearly nine months later and became the 2009 NFL comeback player of the year. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee on Dec. 24, 2011, skipped the preseason and played every regular season game (leading the league in rushing in 2012 with 2,097 yards). The Ravens watched backup defensive back Terrence Brooks tear the same ligaments last December and get on the field for the third preseason game at the end of August.

So, if everything goes as expected on reworking Flacco's contract, he won't be practicing in the Ravens' offseason workouts in the spring and he could miss all of training camp as well as the preseason. But, based on the information known, Flacco has a chance of being under center when Baltimore opens the 2016 season, which the Ravens hope will mark a return to the postseason.