Last week, Harbaugh cited "winning football" in a preseason game to praise Mallett. This week the Ravens coach pointed out missing three offensive linemen when discussing the quarterback's 13-for-22, 113 yards, one touchdown and two interception performance.
"I thought he did good," Harbaugh said of Mallett, via the Baltimore Sun. "He got out of trouble a few times, he made a few throws. I think we'll just keep working to build off that. He was under pressure more than we'd like early on and I thought he handled it well, didn't make mistakes. He played good, solid football. We're not totally together up front right now and I think he's doing OK given the circumstances."
Harbaugh's comments echoed Mallett, who said he played better than last week.
"I thought we made some improvements," Mallett said. "We got into a little bit of a rhythm after kind of a slow start. But, you know, we're getting better and that's what it's about. We'll get ready for the next one.
"I think I played a little bit better. There's still plays to be made, but that's part of it. It's part of growing and getting better."
Even with all the caveats regarding Mallett (didn't play with starting receivers last week, missed offensive linemen this week), he has yet to look like a viable starter at any point during the preseason. Sure, one of his interceptions on Thursday was ripped away from a receiver by a defender, but he could have also thrown several others -- including one into the belly of a defensive lineman.
Mallett lacks poise in the pocket, next to no touch on his fastball, and his deep throws are heaves sprinkled with a dusting of a prayer. The 29-year-old is so frustratingly awkward that the few moments he looks anything resembling a competent passer brings praise -- not unlike the adolescent boy who keeps missing the toilet getting a cookie for not messing all over the bathroom. If Mallett should play in the regular season, Baltimore might as well ship Danny Woodhead out on a crab boat for that weekend, because the quarterback couldn't come close to hitting a screen pass Thursday night.
Despite owning a shaky backup situation, at this point it appears the Ravens are going to accept whatever Mallett gives them while praying to their deity above that Joe Flacco returns fully healthy to open the season and doesn't suffer another injury along the way.