Breshad Perriman has only been an NFL player for 21 months, but its been one long rocky ride. In 2015, Perriman suffered a partially torn PCL on the first day of training camp. A few months later, Perriman went to workout on the field before the Ravens contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. During the warm-ups however, he aggravated the injury and eventually was placed on injured reserve, ending his rookie season before it even began.
The problem about the whole thing was how quiet the Ravens were. You had no idea what was going on with Perriman during that timeframe and didn't find out until later in the year. Perriman went through a lot of mental hurdles with not only the injury, but pressure from the media, the team, and the fans to come back.
Heading into the 2016 season, the words "bust" and "injury prone" were being thrown around about the Ravens 2015 1st round draft pick before anybody really had a chance to see him play. To add on to it, Perriman was also dealing with the loss of his friend and teammate Tray Walker and the health of his father. For a guy who was essentially entering another rookie season with a ton of pressure already being thrown at him to succeed, that's a lot to deal with. Things got worse when Perriman suffered a knee injury during mini-camp and it was thought to be a torn ACL.
Luckily, Perriman finally caught a break when it wasn't a torn ACL and he had to get a stem cell injection. He still missed all of training camp, but he was able to finally see some in game action on the final preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. Perriman's first full season as an NFL player was about to start and it was just as much of a roller coaster as you'd expect it to be.
Through the first half of Perriman's season, he showed flashes of what he could do such as his 35-yard leaping grab down the sideline in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills or his spectacular 41-yard catch on the first drive against the New York Giants. Unfortunately, Perriman was plagued with something that was a lot of trouble for him during his time in college at the University of Central Florida; drops. Drops severely effected Perriman throughout the entirety of the 2016 season. In the game against the Washington Redskins however, drops wasn't the issue, it was his presence of mind. On 1st and 10 at the Redskins 23-yard line and down 16-10, Flacco heaved a pass to the right corner of the endzone and Perriman hauled it in for what looked like the game-winning touchdown. As it turned out, Perriman only had one foot in bounds while the other was out. The play was reversed and the Ravens lost.
The criticism of Perriman reached high levels after that play. It was probably his welcome to the NFL moment. A moment that maybe he needed. During the teams Bye Week and on the heels of a four-game losing streak, head coach John Harbaugh had a heart to heart talk with the young receiver. Harbaugh said:
"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 this curve up."
Even though this was Perriman's first season playing in the pros after missing all of the year before, Harbaugh wanted the young buck to evolve into the receiver the Ravens want him to be and into what he can be. With the Ravens failures at drafting wide receivers and with Joe Flacco at the helm, the team knows they have to get this one right with Perriman.
Two weeks later against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football, Breshad Perriman finally hauled in his first NFL touchdown on a great adjustment to the ball for the 27-yard score. The touchdown put the game away for good and it was a moment that was a long time coming for Perriman. He would have another impressive touchdown catch two weeks later against the Cincinnati Bengals that was almost reminiscent of his play against the Redskins. Only this time, he was able to keep his two feet in bounds. He even showcased his speed with his 53-yard dash into the end zone against the Miami Dolphins and he almost did it again in Cincinnati .
After the Bye, Perriman caught 19 of his 33 receptions, 316 of his 499 receiving yards and all 3 touchdowns. Other than his first touchdown against the Browns, my favorite play with Perriman came on Christmas against the Pittsburgh Steelers with the playoffs on the line. It wasn't a touchdown or some spectacular catch that will be showcased on highlight reels for years, but it was a play of resiliency and an ability to bounce back.
On 2nd and 10 at the Steelers 48 yard line with 4:07 left and the Steelers up 24-20, Flacco fired a pass to Perriman that was dropped. On the very next play later, Flacco trusted Perriman to get the next one and Perriman hauled it in for a 15-yard key third down conversion to continue what would become the team's 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that put them ahead 27-24. Perriman could've easily folded after that drop on a big primetime stage, but he was able to bounce right back on the very next play. A play like that can help a young player's confidence, especially when his quarterback trusted him enough to give him another shot on the very next play with a lot at stake. He showed that he can pick himself up after a mistake on the big stage.
The morale and public opinion of Perriman isn't very high and he has a lot to work on with his hands, route running, and his chemistry with Flacco during the offseason and into training camp. Perriman knows this:
"The thing that I liked most about it is now I know what I need to work on. I am excited. I feel like first and foremost, my route running. I have to get better at coming in and out of breaks and things like that. There is much we can do to try and get the connection better and the chemistry better, that is going to help for me to get that done."
Realistically speaking, the 2016 season for Breshad Perriman went exactly as expected. An up-and-down season with a lot of learning, struggles and flashes of what he can do. A rookie season in a nutshell. For a guy who has had two knee injuries that kept him out of two training camps, the entire 2015 season and the majority of the 2016 preseason, this is the kind of year he should've had. He really was having his first training camp and preseason during the 2016 regular season. He wasn't going to go out there and be rookie Odell Beckham Jr. That wasn't going to happen. That's okay.
First and foremost, Perriman needs to stay healthy throughout the duration of OTA's, mini-camp and training camp. Especially for his first real training camp. He needs all the practice time and playing time during the preseason to hone his craft and get him ready for the 2017 campaign. John Harbaugh said last week that he hopes Perriman can become a number one wide receiver. As he should based on where the Ravens drafted him. I don't think Perriman will become a true number one receiver in 2017, but I do think he can climb up the ranks and get closer to the level the Ravens want him to be.
The road for Perriman won't be easy, but it never has been over these last 21 months. He has climbed up the mountain of adversity and through it all, hasn't given up and has showed no quit. Perriman will have to get to work over the next nine months because yet another challenge awaits him next season. The thing is, he's used to it by now. That can be a good thing.