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Mike Wallace: Breshad Perriman Will Be a Top WR This Year


Get on board now, because the Breshad Perriman hype train is pulling out of the station.

It's still early, and there's a whole lot more work to do, but those who have seen Perriman on the field so far this year are thoroughly impressed.

"I think he's going to surprise a lot of people," fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace said after Thursday's practice. "He's going to be one of the top receivers in the league this year."

On the first day of OTAs, Perriman got behind the Ravens secondary for what would have been a long touchdown. On Day 2, he ran through a tug of the jersey from cornerback Tavon Young to haul in another bomb with his fingertips.

On Day 3, in front of reporters, Perriman made two more spectacular catches. He zoomed past reserve cornerback Sheldon Price for a long touchdown in the back of the end zone. Then, when matched up with top cornerback Jimmy Smith, Perriman made a nice adjustment to grab a back-shoulder throw and tap his toes on the sideline.

"Nobody, I think, is having a better camp than him so far," tight end Dennis Pitta said Thursday. "He is making big plays everywhere, catching everything thrown his way."

There were more nice plays that weren't caught on video. Head Coach John Harbaugh described another Perriman made against Smith.

"He beat Jimmy one time, and I asked Jimmy about it and he said, 'Hey man, I think I would have pulled my hamstring if I had chased him right there.' Breshad eats up a lot of ground and he is running routes very well and he is catching the ball very well," Harbaugh said.

"I think Breshad has had a really good three days. He has had a really good five weeks. He looks very healthy; he looks very fast."

In his first season on the field last year, Perriman played in all 16 games and caught 33 passes on 66 targets for 499 yards and three touchdowns. He was in the wrong spot in a couple of key instances that led to interceptions, and didn't quite get his feet in bounds on a potential game-winning touchdown against the Washington Redskins.

There were flashes, but it wasn't good enough for Perriman. He checked off his goal of staying healthy, but still needed to improve his route-running, concentration and connection with quarterback Joe Flacco. Now, with the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. and departure of Kamar Aiken, the Ravens need Perriman to take the next step and develop into a top-flight wide receiver.

With last year's personal challenges – the death of his best friend and former Ravens cornerback Tray Walker and sudden stroke of his father – now behind him, Perriman says his concentration is at an "all-time high." He's only thinking about football and finally having fun.

"You can tell it's night and day with the confidence level and the way he's playing and going about his business," Wallace said.

The catch Perriman made against Smith on the sideline showed the growing trust Flacco has in his receiver. Flacco threw it to a spot and relied on Perriman to turn and make the play. It was about timing, and a difficult play to pull off with Smith so close in coverage.

Asked what he has to do to keep Flacco's confidence, Perriman said "Make plays and be in the right spot."

"I feel like [our chemistry] has improved tremendously," he continued. "Of course, it can always be better, but right now we feel like we're in a great place."

Flacco's best buddy, Pitta, raved about the great strides Perriman and Flacco have made.

"He is focused, and he is working hard, and he has been stepping up. You can't have anything but confidence in the way he has looked so far."

Despite the high praise, there are months until real football is played. As the saying goes, everyone looks good in shorts.

"We have to keep building; keep stacking," Harbaugh said.

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