Less than two months after Torrey Smith left for San Francisco in free agency, the Ravens drafted his replacement in first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman.
Like Smith, Perriman is a speed merchant. Madden 16 rated Perriman as the fastest player in the league and cornerback Jimmy Smith said he has more straight-ahead speed than his predecessor.
But with Perriman sidelined since the first day of training camp with a knee injury, who is left to stretch the field as a deep threat?
With Perriman's rehabilitation taking longer than expected and his Week 1 status unknown, there is a temporary and immediate need to find other methods to go deep. It's a part of the Ravens offense, especially given Joe Flacco's big arm, that they don't want to lose.
Offensive Coordiantor Marc Trestman* *said the Ravens will still go deep. They'll just have to do it in other ways.
"Our guys are fast enough," Trestman said. "I think when you talk about Breshad, you're talking about another click in speed there."
With Perriman, he can get behind cornerbacks almost immediately off the snap with his acceleration and then continue to run past them. The Ravens' other receivers may not beat their cornerback in a foot race, so everyone has to get more crafty.
"[If] you want the deep ball in the National Football League, you don't have to go by your guy to beat him," Trestman said. "The guy can be on top of you, and you can back-shoulder throw. That's a vertical throw, too, and we [had] a bunch of that in the games, in the practices anyways."
The Ravens' longest passing play in their preseason opener was a 45-yard catch and run by Michael Campanaro, but that was more a byproduct of him getting wide open with a nice crossing route and throw by Matt Schaub.
The Ravens' deepest passing plays in Philadelphia were a 21-yard pass to Marlon Brown and 28-yard touchdown pass to undrafted rookie Daniel Brown down the right sideline. Both Browns are tall targets at over 6-foot-5, so they create the big play with their size.
"It's [about] how we do it and how we scheme it and approach it," Trestman said.
As Trestman pointed out, the Ravens have been working on hitting the deep pass, and they found a good amount of success while practicing against the Eagles secondary.
The Ravens targeted sixth-round rookie Darren Waller a few times with Waller making tough over-the-shoulder grabs. Second-year wideout Jeremy Butler has shown a knack for making long sideline catches with good adjustment and tracking skills.
Flacco took a deep shot to Kamar Aiken on the Ravens' first drive of the Philadelphia preseason game but Aiken was double covered and the pass was deflected and intercepted in the end zone. Aiken saw it as a missed opportunity to show he can make deep plays.
"I want to prove it real bad,but I try not to get caught up in that," Aiken said. "If anybody knows me, I ran deep balls in college. That's all I did. It's nothing new. We've been working on it out here, and when the time comes, I'll make them."