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Who are these guys at QB in Super Bowl?

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Who are these guys at QB in Super Bowl?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) No Tom Brady. No Aaron Rodgers. No Ben Roethlisberger. Not a Manning in sight.

Super Bowl has a pair of fresh faces at quarterback, bona fide nobodies as far as the NFL title game goes. One will leave New Orleans as football's newest star.

For Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco, this is new territory. And, of course, exactly where they want to be.

``To be AFC champs feels good,'' Flacco said Monday. ``We move on now to this challenge.''

Flacco, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five NFL seasons, will lead the Baltimore Ravens into Sunday's matchup against the NFC-winning San Francisco 49ers and Kaepernick, a backup for most of his two seasons.

It's the first time in a decade that the big game doesn't feature one of the big five household names in the glamour position.

You can't get much fresher than quarterbacks who never have gotten this far before.

``At the start of the season, I was just hoping to get on the field some way, somehow,'' said Kaepernick, the backup for Alex Smith, who took the 49ers to the conference final last season.

He got that chance after Smith sustained a concussion on Nov. 11, and hasn't seen the bench since.

Win this one and he'll have a piece of history, joining a heady quarterback club that includes Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young, who guided the 49ers to five NFL titles - a victory every time they played. No. 6 would tie the team with Roethlisberger's Pittsburgh Steelers - a record for most Super Bowl wins.

A second-round draft pick in 2011 out of Nevada - not exactly Alabama - Kaepernick has the shortest pro resume of any Super Bowl quarterback. It's impressive, nonetheless. His legs (181 yards rushing against Green Bay, a record for the position) and his arm (105.9 passer rating in the postseason) are the main reasons San Francisco is in its first NFL title game in 18 years.

``Anybody that is out there on the football field, you want to see them produce and get results,'' left tackle Joe Staley said. ``With Colin, his first couple of starts, you did not know what to expect because we had not seen him out there as a starting quarterback. He did amazing and he has all season, as well as the playoffs. I think it was one of those things where we saw him in practice and we just wanted to see how he was going to handle the situation in the games. He has done that.''

Still, he's new to this environment and that hardly seems to faze Kaepernick.

``One thing I've always said about him from the start is he comes off as a guy that has a lot of confidence,'' said center Jonathan Goodwin, who won a Super Bowl snapping for Drew Brees and the Saints three years ago. ``I'm not just saying that. You can feel it by the way he acts and talks.''

Flacco has that air of certainty, too, but at least it's built on a more substantial foundation, including an 8-4 mark in the playoffs, with six road wins - the most for any quarterback, Montana and Young included. That goes for Baltimore's John Unitas, too.

Nobody is comparing Flacco to them just yet, except for the self-belief he brings to the job.

``You naturally become more of the guy when you spend a number of years in the league,'' he said at the Ravens' first Super Bowl news conference Monday. ``As a quarterback, it's my job to lead from Day 1.''

As a five-year starter, that's exactly what Flacco did after Baltimore drafted him out of Delaware - yep, not exactly Alabama.

As has become the custom in the NFL, Flacco represents the high draft pick who steps behind center early in his career and, usually, stays there. Both Mannings did it, as did Roethlisberger. Just this season, the top two picks in the draft, QBs Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, were anointed starters at the outset and played sensationally.

Now Flacco and Kaepernick try to join those big-name quarterbacks who own all those Super Bowl rings.

``We try to pass tests every day,'' Flacco said.

That's how you become a Super Bowl quarterback.

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Ravens kick return job still up in the air

Ravens kick return job still up in the air

With two preseason games left, the Ravens appear to have little clarity in their efforts to find a kick return specialist, and although Michael Campanaro had all three punt return chances against the Colts last weekend, the Ravens aren't ready yet to declare the job his.

Last year's leading returners — Kaelin Clay and Jeremy Ross — are no longer with the team.

RELATED: MAKING SENSE OF FLACCO VS. THE LIONS

Coach John Harbaugh, the former special teams coach that he is, blasted the Ravens special teams play against the Colts, both in kick returns and in kick coverage.

"We kicked the ball to them, and they kicked the ball to us, and we got our butts kicked," Harbaugh said after the game. "That's unacceptable."

Harbaugh seemed particularly agitated about the Ravens kickoff coverage; the Colts averaged 28.0 yards per kick return, nearly 10 yards better than the Ravens (18.8).

Earlier this week, Harbaugh declared, "We have not found our punt returner or our kick returner yet."

As for kick returns, three running backs — Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West and Stephen Houston — returned kicks at Indianapolis last week with unimpressive results. West had the longest return at 23 yards, and two returns left the Ravens inside their 20-yard line.

The Ravens are giving both West and Dixon a long look as kick returner — Houston is a longshot to make the team — with the idea that a fourth running back could also contribute in the return game. Rookie Tavon Young has also been given reps as a kick returner, though he missed the Colts game with a hamstring injury.

Campanaro headlines a group of punt return candidates that includes former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Campanaro had all three punt return chances against the Colts, with one fair catch and one 21-yard return. Reynolds, who has had an inconsistent camp as a returner, served on the punt coverage team and had a tackle against the Colts but was not back as the return man at all.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Campanaro "showed some real positive things" against the Colts, but Rosburg was not ready to hand him the job yet.

"Michael's out there trying to win the job," Rosburg said after practice on Wednesday. "It's really not his job, it's the returner. The job belongs to the team, and he's trying to get that job."

Expect the auditions for both jobs to continue Saturday night against the Lions.

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Why Ravens' decision to play Joe Flacco against Lions makes sense

Why Ravens' decision to play Joe Flacco against Lions makes sense

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will see his first game action since last November on Saturday night, when he starts the Week 3 preseason game against the Lions.

“You need to get back out there, you need to get your mind used to getting ready for a game,” Flacco said Tuesday on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein.

Here are three reasons why playing Flacco makes sense:

1. Flacco can benefit from playing before the regular-season opener:

Flacco has shown no indication that he is thinking about his surgically-repaired knee during practices. However, Flacco also knows that no teammates will hit him during practice. Game action will give Flacco a different feel, the test of facing tacklers who will hit him if given the opportunity. Look for the Ravens to call plays that require Flacco to get rid of the ball quickly. The Ravens don’t want Flacco to get hit. But they want him to knock off any potential game rust before the regular season starts.

2.  Flacco can build more chemistry with some of his receivers.

Wide receivers Mike Wallace and Chris Moore, as well as tight end Ben Watson, have never caught a pass from Flacco during a game. This will be a chance for them to get a better feel for each other heading into Week 1.

3. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and rookie left guard Alex Lewis have been practicing and playing with confidence.

It’s early, but Stanley has looked more like a five-year vet than a rookie. Lewis is a physical blocker who doesn’t look intimidated by anyone, or anything. With guard John Urschel missing another day of practice on Wednesday, Lewis is expected to start next to Stanley on Saturday night. The Ravens feel their two rookies on the left side of the line can protect Flacco’s blindside well enough to the Lions away from him.

MORE RAVENS: Scrambling QB's could give Ravens problems

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Zion Harvey, Baltimore boy with hand transplant, keeps photo of Ray Lewis

Zion Harvey, Baltimore boy with hand transplant, keeps photo of Ray Lewis

This past year has changed Zion Harvey's life. Just 13-months ago, the Baltimore boy was the first child to receive a double hand transplant. He'd lost both hands and feet to a childhood infection. 

Now 9 years old, Zion made headlines earlier this month for using his new hands to throw out the first pitch at an Orioles game.

The remarkable feat hinted at the progress he'd made, but a full update on his condition hadn't been available until Tuesday. 

This video from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where the surgery was performed, shows all the new things Zion can do for himself. It also reveals that the little boy is a big Ravens fan.

In one poignant scene, Zion points to a group of photos hanging on his bedroom wall. They're of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Ravens legend Ray Lewis. In the center, Zion has placed a picture of himself. 

The spunky boy also celebrated his 9th birthday with a Ravens cake, which he was able to help distribute to his friends. 

Zion made an appearance on the TODAY show Wednesday morning. He helped Al Roker do the weather forecast and sat down for an inteview with Savannah Guthrie

He said he was surprised by how far he threw that first pitch at the Orioles game. 

"I was surprised it went that far," he said. But that wasn't his first time on the mound, he explained. 

"Well I play a lot of baseball. They put me as pitcher a lot, but I'm a good batter, too," he said. "My mom was recording a video but I wouldn't say her video was the best. She was mostly jumping up and down while she was taking the video and screaming."

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