Breshad Perriman looked like he was ready for a breakout season.
After dealing with injuries in each of his first two seasons, the former first-round pick had a great offseason program and was primed to step into a larger role during his third year in the NFL.
But the big season that Perriman and the Ravens envisioned didn't happen.
He suffered a hamstring injury in training camp and then struggled once he returned to the lineup. He had problems with drops and never seemed to get in rhythm with quarterback Joe Flacco, and the Ravens opted to make him a healthy scratch for key games in the final weeks of the season.
"It was tough," Perriman said Monday as he cleaned out his locker. "I've never been through any challenges like this football-wise. This was probably my toughest year."
Perriman played in 11 games and caught 10 passes for 77 yards with no touchdowns. It was a big step back from his 2016 season where he played in every game and caught 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.
Perriman's miscues were also magnified this season because they came at critical moments where the Ravens lost games. Dropped passes against the Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans both ended up getting intercepted.
After the loss to Tennessee, Perriman was a healthy scratch for four of Baltimore's final seven games, including the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Just not being out there some games, especially this last game in the biggest game of the season, definitely wasn't easy at all," Perriman said. "Being on the sidelines watching my brothers go to war without me, and having the feeling, knowing, that I could have contributed in some way."
Perriman's career is at a crossroads heading into his fourth season. He's entering the final year of his rookie contract and he'll have to earn his spot on next year's roster.
The status of the Ravens' receiving corps is a big question heading into next season as Mike Wallace is a free agent and reporters have speculated that Jeremy Maclin could become a salary-cap casualty. The Ravens want to see Perriman emerge as the playmaker they envisioned when they drafted him with the No. 26 overall pick, and the next few months will be critical for him.
"I'm not taking anything for granted and I'm just going to try to get better in every single way," Perriman said. "I just really need to go to work, for the most part. I had a season full of adversity. I have a huge opportunity ahead of me and I'm up for the challenge. I just really have to go to work and grind harder than ever."