OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ryan Mallett had an outstanding start for the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, when he passed for a career-best 274 yards in an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The emphasis, however, is on start.
Mallett and the Ravens both agree he still has plenty to prove. He made a strong first impression in how hard he worked to learn the Ravens' offense in 12 days, but he has to stay away from the behavioral issues that led to his release from the Houston Texans in late October.
"The risk is still out there," Harbaugh said of Mallett. "We all have those issues – every player, every coach. There are always things that can happen, but you would hope and pray that Ryan is to the point in his life where he has realized there are things more important than the things that were bringing him down before. He has an opportunity here to turn things around, and it’ll be up to him to do that.”
Mallett fell out of favor in Houston this season. He went from being the Texans' starter on Oct. 8 to getting cut on Oct. 27. Some of his problems included oversleeping for a training camp practice and missing a team flight to Miami (which he blamed on traffic).
The Ravens brought in Mallett for a workout on Dec. 2, and he was signed two weeks later after he sought professional help for the issues that led to his exit from Houston, sources told ESPN's Ed Werder.
According to Harbaugh, most of the homework on Mallett was done by general manager Ozzie Newsome. He has a good relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Texans general manager Rick Smith, both of whom dealt with Mallett in his first five NFL seasons.
Mallett declined to say what he discussed with the Ravens about his past, saying that remains "in-house."
"Whatever happened, happened," Mallett said. "It was put out a certain way, so whatever … I’m not worried about it anymore. I’m a Baltimore Raven, and I’m going to do what I can to help this team.”
Besides the off-the-field issues, Mallett's other big hurdle has been consistency. After each of the two career wins, he has lost the following game, completing just 45.8 percent of his passes for no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Now, Mallett is going to play at Cincinnati, where the Ravens' offense has regularly struggled. In Joe Flacco's career, he has five touchdowns and 11 interceptions at Paul Brown Stadium with a 59.0 passer rating.
Asked about Flacco's problems there, Mallett said, "Well, my name is not Joe."
If Mallett puts together another solid performance in the season finale -- and avoids any problems in the offseason -- he is expected to be the top backup to Flacco.
“Everybody gets a second chance; it’s what you do with it," Mallett said. "It’s my second chance, so I’m trying to take it and run with it.”