Ravens' Ability To Stretch Opposing Defenses Again Is 'Huge'


When Joe Flacco returns to the football field, he'll have some track stars by his side to test whether his arm is up to snuff.

Veteran speedster Mike Wallace and last year's first-round pick Breshad Perriman will give Flacco and the Ravens some big-play threats to stretch opposing defenses, which is exactly what they needed during last year's difficult season.

The injection of speed was a focus for the Ravens this offseason, and Head Coach John Harbaugh is "very hopeful" that signing Wallace and getting Perriman healthy will change the way defenses approach the Ravens offense.

"We've had years when we couldn't back anybody up," Harbaugh said. "The ability to back people up, it's huge."

For several years, the Ravens had Torrey Smith as the vertical threat in the offense. But his departure last year and then Perriman's injury in training camp left a void in that department.

Without a player to truly take the top off the defense, opponents could crowd the box to stuff the run and also jump receivers on the intermediate routes.

That won't be the case this year.

Perriman runs a sub-4.3 40-yard dash and Wallace has been one of the NFL's premier deep threats throughout his career. The Ravens also added Cincinnati's Chris Moore in the fourth round, and he ranked eighth in the country last year with 21.1 yards per reception.

Teaming them up with Flacco's strong arm is a recipe for big plays.

"I plan on [Wallace] having a huge impact," Flacco said earlier this offseason. "I think he's a talented guy. He can run, he can catch, he can do a lot of things. I'm planning on him coming in here and having a big impact on our football team and helping us win a lot of games."

Putting the speed threats alongside Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken and the bounty of tight ends gives Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman plenty of ways to attack teams.

Wallace, Perriman and Moore won't have a chance to work with Flacco until training camp, and that's when they'll really discover the true potential they have as a group.

"It's hard for me to see the speed all of the time in some of these drills," Harbaugh said. "I'm like, 'How fast are they really moving?' Then I go ask the [defensive backs] and they say, 'They're moving really fast.' And that makes me feel good about it."

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