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Keep Breshad Perriman's drops in perspective

It's way, way to early to worry about Ravens rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman's dropped passes.

This might read as a defense of Breshad Perriman, but it's not necessarily meant to be.

Those who have seen the Ravens rookie wide receiver in Owings Mills are noting the first-round draft pick's troubling tendency to drop passes.

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Every player is different, but remember that it wasn't long ago that Torrey Smith, he of the $40 million free-agent contract, faced similar questions.

Comparing Perriman, 21, and Smith, 26, is inevitable. The speedy rookie from Central Florida is viewed -- at least by fans -- as the ready replacement for Smith, who made a living running downfield and either catching long passes or drawing pass interference penalties.

That one was the 26th overall pick (Perriman) and another a second-rounder (Smith was drafted 58th overall) doesn't matter; the wide receiver from Maryland had the best rookie season in franchise history, and was a valuable contributor for four seasons.

But two games into his rookie year, Smith hadn't caught a pass. And he'd done little in the summer of 2011, including four preseason games, to suggest he'd explode for five catches, 152 yards and three touchdowns in the Ravens' third game of the season, against the St. Louis Rams.

Dropped passes were part of the problem, though in Smith's case coaches and teammates said he was thinking too much as he adjusted to the mental rigors of the NFL. Ravens coach John Harbaugh memorably leapt to the receiver's defense in late August that year.

"He can catch the ball. He's catching the ball well in practice. He's going to be fine," Harbaugh told reporters. "Just lay off the kid and let him develop and become the player that he's going to be."

Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston came to Smith's defense just a few weeks later, writing that after just two regular-season games, it was too early to give up on Smith. The next week, the Ravens played the Rams.

Again, Perriman's not Smith, despite the obvious comparison. And the knock on Perriman from the start was that he struggled to catch the football in college, so it's certainly worth keeping an eye on his drops.

It's also worth remembering that in June, starting lineups aren't made and final statistics aren't tallied.

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