Late For Work 6/9: Bold Prediction For Breshad Perriman's Breakout Season

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A Bold Prediction For Perriman's Breakout Season

In the NFL, quarterback-wide receiver duos often stand out as the engine behind great offenses. Baltimore hasn't had many that fans have chattered about over the years, but the Ravens may just be developing a top-flight tandem.

NFL Media's Gil Brandt qualified his picks for the league's best rising combos by two criteria:

1)     The quarterback and receiver must both play the majority of their team's games together this season.

2)     Each receiver listed must both lead his team in targets and generate 1,000-plus receiving yards for the first time in his working relationship with the listed quarterback.

That's what Brandt sees happing in Baltimore with Joe Flacco and Breshad Perriman. So, yes, Brandt thinks Perriman will both lead the Ravens in targets and top 1,000 yards.

"Perriman's career has yet to get going, but he has big hands and the ability to become an outstanding receiver in the NFL," Brandt wrote.

"He has the potential to become an explosive talent, something special -- perhaps the best receiver Joe Flacco has ever played with. Flacco should be throwing to Perriman early and often, with Steve Smith and Dennis Pitta now both out of the picture in Baltimore."

We've heard a lot of positivity about Perriman after his hot start in this year's OTAs, but that may be the most glowing review yet, and it comes from a former NFL general manager.

Mike*Wallace led the team in receiving yards last season with 1,017, while Perriman had 499. Wallace got 117 targets (second behind Pitta's 119), *while Perriman saw 66.

Flacco Talks About Best Friend Pitta's Injury

It's been a brutal week since tight end Dennis Pitta went down with what may be a career-ending hip injury. On Wednesday, the Ravens released Pitta with an injury waiver.

Baltimore grew to love and appreciate Pitta, not only as a player but as a person. But nobody was closer to Pitta than Flacco. By the way, yesterday was national Best Friends Day.

Yesterday, Flacco spoke for the first time about the incident to 105.7 The Fan's Jerry Coleman. And his statements shed some light on the question all of us who care about him are wondering.

How's Pitta doing?

"I think we all feel bad for him and our hearts go out for him," Flacco said. "But he's taking it well and he'll get over it."

Here's what we know about Pitta's hip:

Earlier this week, NFL Media's Mike Garafolo said doctors got Pitta's dislocated hip back into place without surgery. However, that does not mean that Pitta didn't go under the knife at all.

Garafolo said a hip replacement surgery was still "expected" and that could have been performed soon after the injury.

On Thursday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he has not spoken to Pitta yet because he "has been in the hospital and has had some procedures done." That led ESPN's Jamison Hensley to write that Pitta "remains hospitalized," but that doesn't appear to be the case, per Flacco.

"He's at home now. I've been over there," Flacco told Coleman.

If Pitta's third hip dislocation in four years does mean the end of his career, all 245 passes that he caught in an NFL game (regular and postseason) came from Flacco's hand.

Sadly, Flacco also threw the pass to Pitta in practice that ended with Pitta crumbling to the turf. Flacco talked about what happened on the play.

"It's a shame. It wasn't anything much, it was just running across the middle and something happened to him," Flacco said.

"I kind of threw it out to his right. His stride was pretty normal. When you go back and look at the film, his right foot came down and then his left foot came down, and then he didn't let his right foot come back down. He kind of just jumped and rolled."

Harbaugh said he's exchanged texts with Pitta's wife, Mataya, but hasn't spoken to Pitta yet.

"I am looking forward to having that conversation, and it is going to be a tough conversation," Harbaugh said. "We are friends. At least, that is how I see it. I had a text conversation with his awesome wife, and they are in a good place.

"Everybody kind of knew his situation going in. For him to get that year and play so well was probably something beyond expectations, and yet, we hoped for more. We thought we could get more. It was not meant to be."

Ravens' Most Important Game in 2017 Is a Bit Surprising

Yesterday, I wrote about how ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) statistics gave the Ravens about a 50/50 chance of making the playoffs this season.

Now the stats nerds (no offense) are back with an in-depth look at which game means the most.

The Ravens have the ninth-most critical game in the NFL, and it's not surprising that it comes against their rival Steelers.

What's interesting is that it's not the Week 14 Sunday Night Football game in Pittsburgh, however. Rather, the most important game on the Ravens' schedule, per FPI, is the Week 4 game against the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

"FPI projects Baltimore as the AFC favorite to take a wild-card spot, and a home win over the rival Steelers would raise its playoff probability to 60.8 percent," wrote ESPN's Hank Gargiulo. "A win here also elevates the Ravens' chances of taking the AFC North to better than 1-in-3."

The Ravens will face the Steelers one week after coming back from London for the Week 3 tilt against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers will be in Chicago the previous week.

Projecting the Ravens' First-Time Pro Bowler

I love how we're not even to training camp and there are already predictions on who will be going to the Pro Bowl. Welcome to the offseason!

NFL Media's Marc Sessler picked one player from every NFL team that is "poised to potentially make his first Pro Bowl."

For the Ravens, Sessler pointed to none other than re-signed nose tackle Brandon Williams.

"The Ravens wasted no time this offseason in making Williams the league's highest-paid nose tackle with a five-year, $54 million pact," Sessler wrote.

"A dominant force along the line, the 28-year-old has graded positively against the run in all but six of his past 34 games. Named as a second alternate for last season, Williams should vault into the all-star exhibition with another strong campaign, barring another untoward snub."

Williams has dominated the league as a run-stuffer the past two seasons. He's a major reason why Baltimore has had one of the best rush defenses.

It's not too surprising that a third-round pick out of Missouri Southern State, who prides himself on doing the dirty work of taking up multiple blockers in the trenches, didn't get a ton of publicity early in his career. Now Williams' play and the resulting contract have put his name on the map.

If Williams delivers on his aim of adding better pass rush to his game, it wouldn't be any surprise to see him get the votes to go to Orlando.

Wallace Is Still Ravens' Fastest Player

The Ravens have some definite speed at wide receiver this year. Wallace and Perriman are two blazing speedsters on the outside.

But to entertain the age-old question, who is faster?

"Even at age 30, Wallace was the seventh-fastest player in the NFL last season, according to NFL tracking sensors worn during games. He reached 22.34 mph while catching a 70-yard completion from Joe Flacco," Hensley wrote.

"That said, wide receiver Breshad Perriman would probably like to race Wallace to see who is the fastest Raven."

I'm not so sure about this pick. Had Perriman gotten up to full speed on any of his gallops last year, it would not have surprised me if he turned in a faster speed.

Stopwatches at Perriman's Pro Day in 2015 had him running the 40-yard dash between 4.24 and 4.27 seconds. Central Florida even claimed one scout had him at 4.15.

Wallace ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at the 2009 Combine. That was the second-fastest time of any wide receiver in his class behind Maryland prospect Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Plus, and I hate to say this, but Perriman is 23 years old and Wallace is 30. Even Wallace admitted last offseason that he has maybe lost a half-step. Regardless, both guys are bona fide speed demons.

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