There was a lot of intrigue and hope for wide receiver Breshad Perriman last summer.
He made the most plays of any player, at any position, in practices and looked like he was on his way to a breakout season in his third NFL year.
Then yet another preseason injury, this time a hamstring, struck, knocking Perriman off his upward trajectory and contributing to another slow start that he never recovered from.
A couple of drops, both leading to interceptions in Ravens losses, proved especially damaging. Ultimately, Perriman was inactive for four of Baltimore's final seven games as the Ravens turned to other options for quarterback Joe Flacco.
Perriman finished with just 10 catches for 77 yards. He was targeted 34 times. After the season ended, Perriman said it was "probably my toughest year."
Now he's entering what could be a make-or-break offseason before his fourth NFL season, and he's going to have to earn his spot.
"He wants to be great," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That's something that we have to find out. It's up to Breshad; it's up to us. In the end, this is a tough league. You have to go out there, and you have to earn your stripes."
Harbaugh and the 26th-overall pick of the 2015 draft have had many conversations about his career and what he needs to do to realize his vast potential.
"Breshad is a wonderful, wonderful young man," Harbaugh said. "He wants to fulfill all the expectations that he has for himself, for his family, his dad, his mom."
Perriman's injuries and struggles have been well documented. He tore his PCL during training camp of his rookie year, then re-injured it when trying to make a comeback, meaning he sat out his entire first season.
Last year, he suffered another pre-season knee injury that held him out of training camp and almost all of the preseason. He returned as the team's No. 3 receiver and posted 33 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns. He flashed his potential.
The Ravens were hoping Perriman would take the next step to become a bona fide starter this season, but he was thrown off yet again by a hamstring injury that put him out of commission through most of training camp and all of the preseason.
Add it up, and it's a lot of valuable practice and game reps that Perriman has missed out on, which has hurt both his development and chemistry with Flacco. Harbaugh said the injuries have "really taken a toll" on Perriman.
"I felt great about him. Then the injury happened, and boy, it just set him back," Harbaugh said. "Every time he's gotten hurt, it sets him back, for whatever reason. That's been the toughest thing to deal with."
The Ravens are committed to giving Perriman another chance next offseason, and he should have ample opportunities to prove himself if healthy. Baltimore's wide receiver corps is up in the air with Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro scheduled to hit free agency and Jeremy Maclin's status unknown.
Baltimore needed to make a change this year with Perriman struggling, but the Ravens could still benefit from a late blossom from their big, speedy receiver.
"We'll see how it goes. I'm confident he can do it. I'm hopeful he can do it; I want him to do it," Harbaugh said.
"I'll do everything I can; we'll do everything we can, as a coaching staff, to make him the best he can be, because we need him to be great. But if it doesn't work out, then it's going to be somebody else – that goes for any player."