If Breshad Perriman's final play of the 2016 season is a harbinger for the future, good things are on the way.
Perriman took a shallow crossing route and turned it into a 39-yard gain that was originally ruled a touchdown (overturned on review) in Cincinnati. He blew past two Bengals defenders along the way.
It was those kind of flash plays that made onlookers say "wow" at times when watching Perriman, and that give hope that the 2015 first-round pick will attain his huge potential. At other times, however, Perriman made frustrating mistakes.
Perriman didn't put up massive production in his sophomore season with 33 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns, but he did grow enough to keep the arrow pointing up.
"I sure hope that Breshad Perriman becomes a true No. 1," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "To me, there are signs that that is possible. But he has a way to go; he has a lot of work to do to get it done."
Perriman passed the first test this year. He stayed healthy.
After missing his entire rookie season due to a knee injury, Perriman suffered another knee injury in his other leg in mid-June, which knocked him out of training camp and nearly the entire preseason. He played in his first NFL game in the preseason finale in New Orleans.
But when he returned, Perriman held up for the rest of the year. He played in all 16 games.
"This is his first year of practicing. He did not even have training camp," Harbaugh said. "To me, there is a lot of upside there."
Perriman served as the Ravens' No. 3 wide receiver behind Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace. Tight end Dennis Pitta also gobbled up a lot of targets, but Perriman had his chances, and he at times impressed.
In his first regular-season game, Perriman elevated to make a sparkling 35-yard catch over a Buffalo Bills cornerback. Against the Cleveland Browns, he made an athletic twisting adjustment to haul in his first touchdown pass.
Perriman scored touchdowns in three straight games from Weeks 10-12.
He made a tough catch for a 14-yard score versus the Cincinnati Bengals on a similar play to the one where he landed just out of bounds in what could have been a game-winning catch versus the Washington Redskins. It showed improvement.
A week later, Perriman flew past multiple Miami Dolphins defenders on a 53-yard touchdown gallop. His blazing speed, which was a major reason why the Ravens made him the 26th pick in the draft, was game-changing.
"You see the radius and you see the speed, and I think you see that here is a guy who has a chance," Harbaugh said.
"Now, he has to refine his route-running, he has to refine his hands, his catching and just become an all-around really good receiver."
Harbaugh pointed out that there are only a few true No. 1 receivers in the NFL. They're hard to come by. But even if Perriman doesn't reach the elite level, he can still be a very good wideout. And the only way to do that is through work.
Perriman knows that, and he's ready to get to work this offseason.
"It was good, for the most part. It had some ups and downs," Perriman said of his season. "The thing that I like most about it is now I know exactly what I need to work on. I am excited.
"I feel like first and foremost, my route-running. I have to get better at coming in and out of breaks and things like that."
Perriman found most of his success on crossing patterns and fly routes (or ones like it). If he can perfect those, he can be good. If he can add more to his resume, like comebacks or slants, he can be even better.
He also needs to catch the ball more consistently. A knock on Perriman coming out of college is that he had too many concentration drops. He would make tough hands catches, but other easier passes would fall to the turf. Those issues continued this season, as Perriman notched five drops.
Not running the route correctly or well, and dropping passes, doesn't instill confidence in a quarterback. At times this season, it seemed that quarterback Joe Flacco shied away from throwing to Perriman. Flacco was intercepted twice throwing in his direction against the New York Jets in a brutal loss.
Now with Flacco and Perriman both healthy heading into the offseason, the two are making plans to get together to get on the same page and improve their trust.
"There is much we can do to try and get the connection better and the chemistry better," Perriman said. "That is going to help for me to get that done."