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Eisenberg: Ravens Don't Need To Sign Another Receiver


Breshad Perriman's latest knee injury is devastating most of all to Perriman himself, a young man whose luck has been miserable at the outset of his NFL career.

It's also disappointing and unfortunate for the Ravens, but I wouldn't characterize it as devastating.

A devastating injury is one that knocks out quarterback Joe Flacco for all or part of a season. That's a killer, and now that the Ravens have been there and done that, they know no other injury really qualifies, even one that subtracts a wide receiver whose speed was expected to make a difference in 2016. 

It's not yet clear how long Perriman will be out – maybe for the entire season, but also maybe for just part of it, depending on the results of an arthroscopic procedure he reportedly is undergoing today.

But even if the news is bad, I don't think the Ravens need to make a major move to replace Perriman.

Yes, several veteran receivers are available, including Anquan Boldin. But none have Perriman's speed.

The Ravens already have enough solid route runners. They fielded the NFL's eighth-best passing game in 2015 despite a rash of injuries, and most of the receivers are back. It's clear Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman can take almost any hand he's dealt and produce a quality passing attack.

But there's also a bigger picture to consider. Without Perriman around to "stretch" opposing defenses with his speed in 2015, those defenses clamped down hard on Baltimore's offense. It was an issue. The lack of a home run hitter was one reason the Ravens ended up 5-11.

"We've had years when we couldn't back anybody up (on defense). The ability to back people up is huge," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said recently.

That's why the Ravens signed Mike Wallace, a veteran receiver just as fast as Perriman. The idea was to give the offense two guys who could stretch defenses, opening up more possibilities underneath.

Now, only Wallace can do that. But to reiterate, he CAN do that. Having one burner is better than having none. And someone else could always step up. I wrote a few weeks ago that the Ravens had "more receivers than they need." It's time to tap that well.

Sure, there are questions about the rest of the receiving corps. Wallace had one of his poorest seasons while with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015. Michael Campanaro continually deals with injuries, it seems. Rookie Keenan Reynolds is just learning the position. A significant contribution isn't guaranteed from Steve Smith Sr., who is 37 and coming back from a major injury.

But Kamar Aiken, who led the team with 75 catches in 2015, has dominated on the practice field this spring. Wallace also has looked sharp. Rookie Chris Moore has speed and shows potential. Smith came back for a reason.

It's a promising group. One way or another, I think any substantive filling-in for Perriman will come from within, i.e., from players already on the roster.

Don't get me wrong, it's a bummer – a big bummer that Perriman has suffered a second setback. In the few days he has practiced, you can see why the Ravens made him a first-round pick. I'm sure they're stunned he's hurt again. They had no reason to believe he was fragile when they drafted him. He wasn't injury-prone in college.

My two cents, you can fault them for high picks that haven't panned out on the field, but when a previously healthy high pick can't even get on the field, that's just bad luck.

It's unfortunate, and only unfortunate, that Perriman's fragility is all he has proven so far.

I'm sure the Ravens will be steadfast in supporting him. This latest injury doesn't mean his career isn't over. It's off to a bad start, but he's just 22.

Of course, after two injuries in two years, the Ravens now have to wait before they pencil him into any blueprint. They can't count on him until he proves he can stay healthy and produce.

I don't think there's much doubt that he can, but boy, his luck needs to change.

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