Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman's NFL debut was delayed long enough. Neither he, nor the Ravens, wanted to wait any longer.
Perriman was the first Raven on the field during pregame warmups in Thursday's preseason finale in New Orleans, even before the stadium lights were fully turned on (no malfunction like in the Super Bowl).
When the game finally started, the Ravens came out slinging the ball Perriman's way, and the 2015 first-round pick delivered.
Perriman caught two passes for a combined 25 yards on the first two plays of the game. The first was a 9-yard gain on a hitch. Afterwards, he pointed up to the sky to thank God.
After a knee injury ended his rookie season before it even got started, then another knee injury derailed this year's training camp, the first catch felt like a weight off Perriman's shoulders.
"It just felt like a sigh of relief," Perriman said. "I know it was the ultimate blessing. ... For me to get that first catch, to be out there with my teammates, it was great."
Perriman's second catch was more impressive than the first. He was running a slant and got the cornerback twisted around. Perriman broke across the field and made a nice adjustment on a pass thrown behind him for a 16-yard gain.
"It was good," Harbaugh said of Perriman's debut. "He played fast."
Perriman was targeted with two more passes in his four series of work. One pass on a skinny post was defended well by Saints cornerback P.J. Williams. Perriman didn't haul in the other, a bubble screen intended to get him into space.
Harbaugh said the Ravens wanted to take a deep shot to their speed merchant, but didn't get a chance. The Saints rolled safety coverage over the top of him to try to take away the big play. That is exactly the kind of effect Perriman should have in the regular season, opening up passing and running lanes underneath.
Perriman played for most of the first half. He was pulled from the game before the Ravens' two-minute drive to end the first half, and most importantly, finished healthy.
Even Harbaugh joked about his receiver's injury in the post-game press conference, posing as a reporter asking exactly how Perriman felt after the game on a scale from 1-10.
"I feel fine. I feel the same way I felt coming into the game," Perriman said.
It's been a long time coming for Perriman, and it was obvious how excited he was to make his debut, which happened to be in the same stadium where his father debuted his NFL career.
Perriman didn't think he was going to be too nervous leading up to the game, but that changed Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon as he waited and waited.
"Once I got into the hotel, I couldn't really sleep," Perriman said, adding that he got about six hours of sleep. "It was bad. It was real bad. But I got through it and it gave me that chip on my shoulder to go out there and play faster, harder."
Once Perriman got to the stadium and finally laced up his cleats, the nerves went away.
"It was great to see him out there," Harbaugh said. "He was enjoying himself. He wanted to stay in the game. It was fun. Just the pure joy that he has now – he had to go through a tough year – and you can see it in his face and body language. It's really fun to watch."
The Ravens take on the Saints in week 4 of the 2016 preseason.