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Ravens Trying To Speed Up Breshad Perriman's Progression


In the locker room after the Ravens' 24-16 loss to the New York Jets, wide receiver Breshad Perriman sat in front of his locker for a long while with the hood of his sweatshirt drawn low over his face. Wide receiver Mike Wallace sat close, speaking gently in his ear.

Perriman was the intended target on both of quarterback Joe Flacco's interceptions.

Had Perriman run a crisper route on the first, maybe Jets cornerback Buster Skrine wouldn't have undercut it. Had he reached out to tip a pass that floated over his head, maybe Jets safety Marcus Gilchrist wouldn't have picked it off.

Who knows? Maybe not. But those questions bothered Perriman.

"I think about it a lot when I go back and look at the film," Perriman said Tuesday.

Finally, Perriman doesn't have to answer questions about his health because there aren't any. Now, the microscope is on his on-field performances. And after a sluggish start to his sophomore season, the Ravens and the 2015 first-round pick know he needs to pick up the pace.

"He is very determined; he really wants to be good. He and I talk a lot; we talked today," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

"I told him, 'I just am impatient. You have all this talent, and there is a lot to learn, but I just want to speed the curve up.' Obviously, he said that he could not agree more. We just have to keep chasing it. It is going to happen, and let's try to make it happen sooner rather than later."

Wallace has been the Ravens' chief big-play threat so far this season with 35 catches for 490 yards and three touchdowns. But the Ravens' passing offense would be so much more dangerous if Perriman joined in more on the action.

Perriman has just 14 catches for 183 yards and no touchdowns this year. He had one grab for 11 yards against the Jets.

Perriman made a good first impression with a leaping 35-yard catch against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, but his biggest (non) play of the year was a 23-yard game-winning touchdown catch against the Washington Redskins in Week 5 that was reversed after official review. Perriman's second foot landed just inches out of bounds.

"It's just basically making the plays that come to me," Perriman said. "Earlier in the year, I had a couple drops that I want back. Other than that, it's working on the little things. I feel like I can get better in every single area of my game, and that's what I work to do every day."

While Perriman is technically a sophomore, he's really more like a rookie in terms of on-field experience. His first season never got off the ground because of a training camp knee injury that he re-aggravated and eventually sent him to injured reserve.

Then another knee injury suffered this summer wiped out all of training camp and nearly the entire preseason. His first NFL game was the preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 1, and he now has just seven regular-season games under his belt.

But Perriman isn't giving himself a pass for being inexperienced.

"I don't really think like that," he said. "I expect the most and best out of myself more than anybody else. And I know what I'm capable of."

As Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Engram said, Perriman has a good foundation to work from because he still benefited from a lot of time in the classroom and on the sidelines during practice to become comfortable with Baltimore's offense. Now he just needs to work on his craft.

"He is starting to understand how to really run routes," Engram said. "He's getting good at working his releases. If he can do that on a consistent basis, it is going to help him."

If Perriman can get off the line of scrimmage better, beat press coverage quicker, then he can really open up and run. That's his strength. There aren't many (or any) defensive backs that can go stride-for-stride with a wide receiver who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.21 seconds.

But if Perriman is constantly caught on the line of scrimmage or doesn't run good enough routes to make defensive backs fear him beating them underneath, it diminishes the power of his vertical speed.

"The more we can work those releases and get him running, the more we'll have those opportunities to catch those big passes down the field," Engram said. "With Breshad, it's continuing to work break transitions and just fundamental football."

When it comes to the mental side of the game, Engram said Perriman is "mentally strong" in his second year. He's matured since his rookie year, when he admitted to being virtually depressed and not returning his parents' phone calls.

"I think all good players beat themselves up pretty good when they make mistakes, but I don't see any carry over or any lingering in terms of his work in the classroom," Engram said. "He's just a different personality."

There have been bumps along the way so far, as Sunday's loss at MetLife Stadium showed, but Perriman still could be a big part of turning Baltimore's offense around in the second half of the season.

"It definitely tests your patience," he said. "But I've got to stay prayed up and stay the course, and I know it's going to come."

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