Breshad Perriman's Long-Awaited Debut May Come In Preseason Finale
The wait for Ravens fans to see wide receiver Breshad Perriman in game action could finally come to an end Thursday.
Perriman will play in the New Orleans preseason finale if he is cleared by doctors, and nobody wants to see him out there more than Perriman himself and Head Coach John Harbaugh.
"If the doctors clear him, he'll be out there," Harbaugh said Monday. "If he can play, he will play."
Due to two separate knee injuries, the speedster has not played in any games in the 16 months since he was selected in the first round of the 2015 draft. He hasn't missed a day of practice since being activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Aug. 23.
One game of work, even if it's in the preseason, is crucial for Perriman's development for the regular season and to turn his career around. According to TheMMQB.com's Peter King, receivers that miss their rookie seasons have a bad track record in subsequent seasons.
"Warning for Chicago's Kevin White and Baltimore's Breshad Perriman: You would think one lost season would not torpedo a player's entire career, but the record of first-round wideouts who miss most of their rookie seasons is terrible," King wrote.
Per King, if you include White and Perriman, 25 first-round wideouts played in fewer than 10 games in their rookie seasons. Of the 25, only four eventually had a 1,000-yard season, including Santana Moss, Haywood Jeffires, Mike Quick and Frank Lewis.
The Ravens are intent on making Perriman the fifth to turn his career around. The first step is seeing game action Thursday night.
"Even if Perriman's snaps were limited, he could be utilized in some packages as a downfield threat," wrote CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown. "The presence of Perriman could also open up opportunities for other receivers to work underneath."
"The Ravens are expected to start Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace in the Sept. 11 opener against the Buffalo Bills, but Perriman should be either the team's No. 3 or No. 4 receiver," added ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "That's why Baltimore wants to see how his body holds up in a preseason game before relying on him in a regular-season one."
Joe Flacco Getting The Ball Out 'Scorching Fast'
On quarterback Joe Flacco's 17 dropbacks in Saturday's game against the Detroit Lions, he averaged a “scorching” 2.13 seconds before throwing, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).
PFF assumed that Flacco was getting rid of the ball so quickly for "self-preservation" reasons coming off ACL surgery, and it wouldn't be surprising if that played a role in it. But a quicker-strike offense has been the strategy all summer, and King picked up on it when he was in town for a Ravens training camp practice on Aug. 2.
"Team insiders say that Flacco has been throwing the ball quicker and, even more than usual, releasing it before wideouts have turned their eyes back toward the quarterback at the top of their routes," King wrote four weeks ago. "Because the Ravens have simplified their playbook this year, Flacco says there are fewer options for a receiver, making it easier for both ends of the connection to know what's happening when they step to the line of scrimmage."
Wide receiver Kamar Aiken talked about the benefits of making quicker throws. He said the goal is to work faster than the defense has time to adjust, allowing the receivers to get the ball quicker and hopefully get more yards after the catch.
With this style of play, it's even more important that the timing between Flacco and his targets be in sync.
"He's definitely been putting it in spots and trusting us to get there," Aiken told King.
Ravens Have A Tough Call Between John Urschel And Alex Lewis
When Harbaugh was asked whether rookie Alex Lewis has played well enough to unseat injured John Urschel for the starting left guard job, the head coach took a deep breath while he thought about it.
"That's a great question," he said. "We probably are considering that right now, but we haven't had that discussion yet, just because John hasn't been out there. That is something we have to consider."
Brown noted that Urschel could return to practice soon from his "contusion" because the reporter saw Urschel working post-practice with Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo.
The quicker Urschel returns the better, if he wants to hold off Lewis for the starting job.
"Even if Urschel starts the season, Lewis is showing that at worst, he can be a reliable backup," wrote Brown. "The coaching staff believes Lewis will be an NFL starter one day. It remains to be seen if that day will be Week 1 against the Bills."
Ravens Reunion With Paul Kruger Unlikely
Upon hearing the Cleveland Browns released former Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger, many fans took to social media asking whether he could return to the team that selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft.
"I wouldn't completely rule it out because Kruger was a solid player and citizen with the Ravens and they're always looking to upgrade their pass rush," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "However, I don’t think it makes much sense."
That's because the position is loaded, and the Ravens like who they already have on the roster.
In addition to veterans Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Albert McClellan, the Ravens are developing promising talent in Za'Darius Smith, Kamalei Correa and Matt Judon.
"I don't see where Kruger fits in that mix," wrote Zrebiec.
According to ESPN, Kruger already has free-agent visits set up with the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. There was no mention of the Ravens.
By the way, have you seen how highly-graded Judon has been through three preseason games? He's the top-rated rookie at the 3-4 outside linebacker position (tied), per PFF.
Three More Roster Moves That Could Be Made Today
The Ravens' roster is down to 79, after making 11 moves yesterday.
That means four more need to be made by 4 p.m. today, and Zrebiec says three could easily be made** **with injured players.
The Ravens could put rookie defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (ankle) and safety Matt Elam (knee) on injured reserve. They could also move running back Lorenzo Taliaferro from his spot on the training camp PUP to the regular-season PUP.
"Making those moves Tuesday would allow the Ravens to keep a few extra healthy players for the Saints game," Zrebiec wrote. "However, Harbaugh understands the difficulty of the decisions his staff will have to make after the game."