Breshad Perriman has been put on injured reserve, ending his rookie season before it ever begun. Now the thoughts going through everyone's head is if Perriman has a long-term injury or possible degenerative issue going on. Harbaugh doesn't seem to think so.
"Not that I've been told. To me, it's still a hard one to understand. There are better people to ask than me about that. I'm just disappointed."
Now the wording here is what trips me up. "Not that I've been told" is not an outright denial. You'd figure the head coach of a team would know for sure and would have asked his team of doctors and trainers. With how frustrating the injury to your first-round pick has been, the head coach of the team should know for sure one way or another and should be able to answer that question without hesitation. The fact that he says "there are better people to ask than me" gives me pause as it shifts blame away from him and onto reporters for not tracking down a doctor that cannot and will not answer the question.
Something I've noticed this season is that head coach John Harbaugh seems to be answering injury questions vaguely and sometimes outright lying about them. Maybe taking a page out of fellow head coach Bill Belichick, Harbaugh has kept his words at a minimum when asked about the health of players this season. Perriman might be the most frustrating one, but this isn't the only time he's done it.
When Perriman first injured his knee on July 30th on the first day of training camp, it was initially diagnosed as a bone bruise. While misdiagnosis can happen, especially when it comes to ligaments, this is only the first incident in a long line of things that have been weird with Harbaugh and injuries. The injury would later be changed to a PCL sprain, with a general timeline of 4 weeks to return. 21 weeks later, Perriman had yet to play a single snap in the NFL and was officially put on injured reserve to end his rookie season this Tuesday.
Perriman was able to return for a short period of time to the practice field before aggravating the injury during pregame warm-ups before the week 3 matchup between the Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. While running, Perriman came up lame and eventually had to be helped off the field. After the game, Harbaugh was asked about his rookie receiver and what the deal was. His response was really poor misdirection and reads like a cartoon script.
"I have no idea what you’re talking about."(Reporter: "In warm-ups, he was going after a ball...") "This morning? Today?" (Reporter: "Sunday.") "Sunday? No idea what you’re talking about." (Reporter: "So, he hasn’t had a setback at all?) "I have no idea what you’re talking about."
Notice the similarities between his answer here and this week's long-term injury answer? Not a denial of the injury, just misdirection.
This would be just before Perriman would go in for a scope on his knee for what has been described as an injection of stem cells to quicken the healing process. Since we weren't in the operating room, we have to take that at face value, but given how Perriman never did get better and how things went down, you'd have to question if it wasn't a surgery for something a little more serious than a simple diagnostic scope.
But again, Perriman's case isn't the only time we've heard a weird or incorrect answer when dealing with the injury of a player this season. On Monday, Harbaugh was asked about the health of center Jeremy Zuttah and if there was a long-term concern there.
"Jeremy [Zuttah] and Kamar [Aiken]?" "I’m not aware that they had injuries yesterday." (Kevin Byrne: "They came out, then went back into the game.") "Oh yes. I don’t think so. They came back in the game. They’re not on the injury report right now, as far as any kind of a long-term issue, so they should be fine. We’ll know more as the week goes on."
Harbaugh's answer again flies in the face of evidence that it is indeed a long-term issue. Zuttah would go to injured reserve on Wednesday. You'll notice a bit of misdirection yet again with Harbaugh not being "aware" that Zuttah was injured.
Look, it's Harbaugh's job to give his team the best chance of winning games. Part of that is to get a leg up on your competition by not allowing them to know who they will be playing against. I get that injuries are the perfect chance to play those mind games with your opponent and have them spend time preparing for the wrong person. I also understand that part of a head coach's job is to keep fans invested in the team. An organization can't have it known that their first-round pick is more injured than he really is and that the pick might have been wasted, so Harbaugh would be in a situation where he'd have to not lie, but not tell the truth.
It's pure speculation here, but his answer on Perriman's long-term health doesn't have me convinced that there isn't something more serious going on there. While I know nothing for sure, I wouldn't be shocked if Perriman isn't ready to go come 2016 either.