Here's Why Breshad Perriman Isn't On Injured Reserve
For the first time in about three weeks, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked yesterday when Breshad Perriman might return.
With "one of the all-time slowest healing strained PCLs ever," Harbaugh was not about to make any definitive statements. He only said progress was being made and Perriman has a "shot" to play this season. He wasn't exuding confidence, but pointed out that Perriman is still on the 53-man roster for a reason.
"Some have wondered why the Ravens have not placed Perriman on injured reserve (IR), feeling they have wasted a roster spot," wrote CSNMidAtlantic's Clifton Brown.
It's not like the Ravens couldn't use the space. For example, they placed receiver Michael Campanaro on IR after Week 4 with a projected four-week injury to clear room. Rookie receiver Darren Waller went on IR yesterday with a more serious hamstring injury, but at least Ravens coaches and front office personnel got a good look at what the sixth-round pick can do.
Even if Perriman only sees game action three or four times this season, the need to evaluate his potential might be more important than opening a roster spot.
"The Ravens are in] a prime position in next year's draft, which makes the [evaluation process that goes on over the next 10 weeks critical to the formation of a competitive roster in 2016 and 2017," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck.
"Everyone seems to agree that the Ravens simply do not have enough healthy talent to be competitive, which leaves them with the unpleasant task of figuring out how much of their unhealthy talent is going to make the contribution next year that the team was counting on this year."
Perriman's first-round status and extended absence underscores Schmuck's point.
Harbaugh and General Manager Ozzie Newsome need to see if Perriman can be a reliable speed demon that can stretch the field the way Torrey Smith once did. The answer to that question – or at least getting a glimpse that could give some sort of indication – could affect decisions made this offseason as the front office tries to correct a team they had such high hopes for, but has started 1-6.
It's tough to right the ship without knowing what they have in their top pick. The Ravens have to ask themselves, is Perriman the long-term answer?
"[O]r will the Ravens have to go back into the NFL draft and use a high pick to augment their undermanned receiver corps?" asked Schmuck. "If there is a way to ascertain that Perriman is the real deal and the Ravens also are able to go out into the free-agent market to buy one of the top veteran wide-outs, then they will be in position to use a strong draft to replenish their secondary and — just maybe — quickly reconstruct the dominant defense that has long defined the franchise."
Perriman isn't the only player who will be under the microscope. Over the last 10 weeks of the season, there will be a dual goal going forward: win games and figure out who can help in 2016.
"To that end, do they assume that Terrell Suggs has one more good year in him after a second Achilles tendon reconstruction? Do they go forward with any confidence that Lardarius Webb can still be a dependable cornerback or Matt Elam will return and suddenly bloom as a premier safety? Or do they assume nothing and look to upgrade everywhere?
"Though there might be wide consensus that the team's sharp downturn stems from a decided lack of playmakers, the Ravens also need to figure out if that's the only reason why the offensive attack has failed to develop a consistent rhythm during new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's first season."
Kamar A Starter? Marlon Experiment Over?
When the production from your receiving corps is as unbalanced as it is, you're bound to get plenty of questions and tough criticism.
Through seven weeks of the season, Steve Smith Sr. has 41 catches and the rest of the unit has combined for 46. Smith has 588 receiving yards compared to 546 yards from all the others. The 36-year-old veteran has notched three touchdown catches, and all the other receivers have two.
Outsiders are calling out the top two receivers behind Smith, including Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley says Aiken's "stats don't suggest he's a starting wide receiver in the NFL." Aiken has had some good games, but has also been held to 22 yards or fewer in four of seven games.
Baltimore Beatdown's Matthew Stevens says Brown shouldn't be starting either (he's started two games and played in all seven).
"Once teams figured out how to knock Marlon Brown out of a game, he hasn't shown up in one since his rookie season],” Stevens wrote. “As much as I like Marlon Brown and his potential, two seasons of unfulfilled promise is [enough to push him down the depth chart. It's certainly enough to limit his playing time and award it to other young receivers in order to see what you have for the 2016 season."
That could mean more snaps for guys like Jeremy Ross, Chris Givens and Jeremy Butler, who was promoted to the 53-man roster Monday.
While there likely won't be a drastic change, we already saw Ross get a bit more action last week in the offense with 17 snaps, and you might see a similar uptick in Givens' snaps after seeing 10 last week. As late additions to the roster, Givens and Ross should be feeling more comfortable in the offense and developing more chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco.
"Don’t be surprised to see [Givens] get more playing time Week 8 against the Chargers," wrote Clifton Brown. "Givens' speed poses the kind of threat that can help the Ravens' downfield passing attack, creating opportunities not only for Givens, but for teammates working underneath routes. It has been almost a month since Givens was acquired in an Oct. 3 trade with the Rams. He should be feeling more comfortable in the offense, and he had two catches against the 49ers in Week 6."
Ravens Rank Second With Players On Injured Reserve
Here's a painful category in which you'd prefer not to be among the NFL's top leaders.
After placing Waller on injured reserve yesterday, the Ravens now rank second with the number of players on the list, according Hensley. Waller marks the 12th Raven to be on IR, which are just two players less than the league-leading Pittsburgh Steelers with 14.
"The Ravens' total of IR players more than doubles 20 other teams," wrote Hensley. "It's also doubles the league average of 5.5."
The good news is that among the players on the active roster, only two were completely missing from practice yesterday. Those two were Perriman and cornerback Tray Walker.
Meanwhile, safety Kendrick Lewis may have dodged a bullet when he went down with what looked to be an ugly knee injury in the 49ers game, and he acknowledged his relief Wednesday.
"I'm blessed that the injury wasn’t worse than what it was," Lewis told The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli. "God was with me, twisted up like that, and to come out of it and make it after you see all these injuries, all these guys with ACL injuries."
Monroe As Trade Bait?
Count me as one of the people excited for the Nov. 3 trade deadline to pass so that all the trade speculation will end.
When asked on Twitter who he could see being traded in Baltimore, TheMMQB.com's Peter King pointed to Eugene Monroe. This was before the Ravens left tackle went down with a shoulder injury and didn't participate in practice despite attending yesterday. So, it's safe to assume a trade isn't going to happen.
"Regardless, it’s an interesting thought," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Monroe has really struggled the past two years both with injuries and inconsistency. It just hasn't felt like the right fit with the Ravens for some reason. Trading him could open up some money for the Ravens to make a bigger run at re-signing soon-to-be free agent left guard Kelechi Osemele.
"But the two questions that have to surround trading Monroe would be: What sort of market would there be for a left tackle carrying a pretty big contract and not playing particularly well? And do the Ravens really think that 2014 undrafted free agent James Hurst is the long-term answer at left tackle?"
Is Jimmy Fully Healthy?
Jimmy Smith looked to be on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl cornerback last season before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc foot injury. And he showed enough signs of becoming a shutdown corner since his rookie season that the Ravens signed him to a long-term deal in the offseason.
But he hasn't played up to his potential this year, leading media to wonder whether he is 100 percent recovered from the injury. Smith simply told reporters that everyone plays with injuries and he wouldn't speak more of it, which made Meoli skeptical.
"His declaration that he wouldn't talk about his foot essentially means it’s not healthy, and it's difficult to fault him for that, but this is just the reality so far for him this year," Meoli wrote.