When You Can Expect Perriman To Make NFL Debut
Maybe Pope Francis really does perform miracles.
That's because while the Pope was touring the East Coast, the heavens opened above the Under Armour Performance Center, and there stood rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman practicing with his teammates. His knee brace was gone.
It was exactly eight weeks to the day since Perriman suffered a knee injury the first day of training camp. He wasn't full-go during the portion of practice open to reporters, but he was jogging and running routes with his fellow receivers.
You can see some of his light workout here, on Garrett Downing's Final Drive. (Mobile app users click "View in browser" at the top of the page to watch.)
Now people are already moving on to the next stage of speculation. When will Perriman make his NFL debut? Just because he practiced this week doesn't mean he'll play this week.
"It would be shocking if Perriman played Sunday against the Bengals," wrote CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown.
"Even without a setback, it will be difficult for Perriman to play freely Week 4 against the Steelers, because it's a Thursday night game (Oct. 1), meaning a short practice week. Best-case scenario for the Steelers game might be a few packages during the game that include Perriman, giving Pittsburgh another weapon to worry about in certain situations."
That means Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 11 would be the most-likely target date, per Brown, as long as Perriman's knee continues to heal. This timetable falls in line with previous reports that the first-round pick would return in October.
"Again, that is just speculation," Brown reminded. "His entire recovery process has taken longer than initially expected."
The mere presence of Perriman on the field will force opposing defenses to slightly alter their strategy. His speed always makes him a threat for a deep ball, and safeties and corners can't get sucked toward the line of scrimmage without the risk of a big play going over their heads.
Quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense took more deep shots down the field in Oakland than they did in Denver. Against the Broncos, there was just one pass longer than 20 yards. Against the Raiders, Flacco had eight completions of 20 yards or longer.
Perriman will be a nice new weapon in Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's arsenal as he continues to work toward an improved deep passing game. But for now, Trestman still isn't satisfied.
"You're not pleased, because we didn't convert the times that we needed to convert, and we didn't get things done, and that's what you look at," Trestman said. "We thought we stretched the field, and we try to do that every single week if we can, both horizontally and vertically.
"We didn't do enough of it. We didn't get enough done offensively to score enough to win."
Panelists Split In Predicting Ravens vs. Bengals
Don't stick a fork in the Ravens.
They're not done.
Despite the Cincinnati Bengals' perfect 2-0 record and the Ravens' winless 0-2 mark, Sunday's game prediction is not an easy decision for the "experts."
They are split right down the middle. Actually, it's the national media that are split with 24 picking Cincy, and 26 others Baltimore.
The local media, particularly at The Baltimore Sun, believe the Ravens will get their first victory of the season. All seven of The Sun's staff picked a Baltimore victory.
"Maybe I'm putting too much stock in the notion that the Ravens are backed into a corner right now, but that sort of thing matters in the NFL," wrote The Sun's Peter Schmuck. "The Bengals clearly are a formidable team, but the combination of home-field advantage and the desperate situation point to a bounce-back week for the Ravens."
Schmuck is not alone in his thinking. Most people that picked Baltimore cited a similar back-against-the-wall mentality. They also like the fact that the Ravens are one of the most consistent teams at home in September. Not to mention this game between division rivals, so you can throw records out the window.
"On one hand, this might seem like an easy call," wrote Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport. "After all, the Bengals have looked very good in dispatching a pair of AFC West foes to open the season, while the Baltimore Ravens just lost to Oakland—a team the Bengals waxed in Week 1.
"However, rivalry games are never as simple as the team records indicate, and this game is no exception."
The Pick Is In: Bengals vs. Ravens
The Baltimore Sun: 7 of 7 panelists pick Ravens
"This game just has a "last stand" feel to it for the Ravens, even in Week Three. Inspired by the home crowd, the Ravens will find a way to get it done at the end, thanks to a late Justin Tucker field goal." -- Jeff Zrebiec
ESPN: 7 of 13 panelists pick Bengals
"I'm going with Cincinnati. They're flying under the radar screen. Why? Because we know Cincinnati is a good football team, we're waiting for them to get in the playoffs. This is a division game. This is one if they win early, that really keeps them ahead of this division." -- Herm Edwards
CBS Sports: 6 of 8 panelists pick Bengals
"The Ravens are a shocking 0-2, but they will be playing their home opener here. This is almost a must-win for the Ravens in Week 3. The Bengals are 2-0 and playing as well as any team in the league. Andy Dalton should have success against a suspect Baltimore defense." -- Pete Prisco
Fox Sports: 4 of 7 panelists pick Bengals
"The Ravens could be in some serious trouble, but I'd be patient on clicking the panic button. Not with this squad. Remember, for as much roster turnover as this team has experienced and as much adversity as its faced, Baltimore has missed the playoffs only once in the six years since Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh came to town. … The Ravens tend to win big games when they have to. This is one of those games." -- Peter Schrager
Bleacher Report: 4 of 8 panelists pick Ravens
"[R]ivalry games are never as simple as the team records indicate, and this game is no exception." -- Gary Davenport
SB Nation: 6 of 7 panelists pick Ravens
NFL.com: 4 of 5 panelists pick Ravens
"Baltimore doesn't fall to 0-3 in front of the home crowd. The Bengals have certainly been one of the best teams in pro football through two weeks ... but on Sunday, they fall in a stadium where they've had their share of troubles over the years. Cincinnati is 2-5 versus Joe Flacco in Baltimore." -- Elliot Harrison
ProFootballTalk.com: 1 of 2 panelists pick Ravens
"When coach John Harbaugh called the Bengals the best team in the league, the intended audience was the Ravens, who were swept by Cincinnati a year ago." -- Mike Florio
Bengals Tackle Loves And Hates Absence Of Terrell Suggs
You'd think Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth would be happy he wouldn't have to worry about stopping the beast that is Terrell Suggs.
But the Pro Bowler is torn about the not seeing his old rival on Sunday. He expected at least another two epic battles.
"It's a love-hate thing," Whitworth told ESPN's Coley Harvey. "You hate the guy because he's such a good football player and he makes so many plays when you play against their team. But you love the guy because, man, he's what football's all about. He plays every snap, he plays it physically."
Suggs has notched double-digit sack numbers his past four full seasons, which is unusual for a pass rusher that plays all three downs. The players that usually put up those types of numbers are reserved specifically for obvious passing plays, similar to how the Ravens used Elvis Dumervil before Suggs went down with an injury.
"You see some of these guys that lead in sacks every year but they only play on third down or only play in certain situations," Whitworth said. "He's one of these guys, every snap he's in the football game, making a difference. He's a difference maker."
Steve Smith, Pacman Jones Keeping Emotions In Check
Two of the most emotional players in the NFL will face off this weekend.
It's Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. versus Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones. They both like to use their emotion to get high-energy play, but are aware they have to temper it enough to not let it get out of control.
"We just have to keep our composure, me and Pac [Jones], and not let the over-aggressiveness or anything like that affect our play or get us out of whack a little bit," Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick told Harvey. "But we know the type of person [Smith] is, and we know the type of people we are. We just have to hold a little bit back."
Both Smith and Jones have let their emotions get the best of them in past, but that doesn't mean they will steer clear of high intensity altogether. Smith sees a healthy dose of emotion as a good thing.
"At the end of the day, football is an emotional game," Smith told media Wednesday, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "You can hear it on the broadcast – or if you watch it as a fan – they say, 'The momentum has shifted.' How does momentum shift? By players making plays and getting emotional."