Baltimore Ravens

Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace both have something to prove this year

Ravens wide receivers Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman found themselves in a conversation during last week's organized team activities about their excitement for the upcoming season.

Their motivation was clear: Wallace tied a career-low with 39 receptions for 473 yards with the Minnesota Vikings last season; Perriman, the Ravens first-round pick in 2015, didn't play at all — his rookie season ending as a result of a knee injury sustained on the very first full-squad practice of training camp.


It was easy to imagine the possibilities with a healthy Joe Flacco targeting two speedy and motivated deep threats on the outside, paired with possession receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken. However, such optimism took a major hit when Perriman exited last week's final OTA practice with a swollen left knee and concerns that he'd have to miss another full season.

"That could happen to anybody," Wallace said Tuesday after the first of three mandatory minicamp practices. "You just felt for him, especially for him not to be able to get his feet wet yet. We're still hopeful that he'll be back soon. I think he'll hopefully be back at some point this season to help us."


The Ravens and Perriman got the best possible news Tuesday about the severity of the wide receiver's left knee injury. Instead of needing reconstructive surgery to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament — a development that would have ended the wide receiver's season before it even began — Perriman was provided with a stem cell injection and renewed hope he could be ready for the Ravens' Sept. 11 regular-season opener.

Renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who performed Tuesday's arthroscopic surgery, deemed Perriman's left knee stable enough to avoid reconstructive surgery.

"l'll say this: many, many prayers, strong prayers, were answered on that," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Let's give credit where credit is due. That's how I'll look at it. Faith wins. It was a great report for all of us."

Harbaugh acknowledged that Perriman, 22, has a lot of hard work ahead of him to get back on the field. If there are no setbacks, the Ravens expect him to return at some point during training camp, which starts in late July.

"It just needs treatment," Harbaugh said. "He should be back at some point in time during training camp. He'll certainly be ready for the regular season, but again, that's always unpredictable. I think we've been down this road before. We'll continue to just work hard, but it was really good news today."

Harbaugh's report on Perriman obviously came with a caveat. When Perriman went down last summer, the Ravens' coach said that the former Central Florida standout was day-to-day, and would miss little, if any, time. Perriman wound up missing all of training camp and the preseason, and then when he still wasn't right in October, Perriman had his right knee scoped and an injection in the problem area.

His knee didn't quickly respond to the treatment and it was a lost season for both the rookie and the Ravens who went 5-11 with a lack of speed on offense factoring in the team's troubles.

This offseason, general manager Ozzie Newsome sought insurance for Perriman. That led the Ravens to use one of their fourth-round picks on wide receiver Chris Moore, who averaged over 19 yards per reception during his college career at the University of Cincinnati, and sign Wallace to a two-year, $11.5 million deal.


"I welcomed the challenge even before Breshad got hurt," Wallace said. "That's my guy; I envisioned both making plays and us both being a threat for this team. So, my plans don't change."

While Perriman is going to need to stay on the field to answer skepticism about his health, Wallace, 29, has plenty to prove as well. His numbers have dropped steadily since he established himself as one of the NFL's top deep threats with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From 2010 to 2012, Wallace averaged 65 receptions for 1,095 yards and just under nine touchdowns per season.

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Wallace then had 15 touchdowns in two seasons with the Dolphins, but he averaged less than 13 yards per reception for the first time in his career. And last season with the Vikings was pretty much a disaster as Wallace never found a niche in the Vikings' offense.

"It's just a matter of opportunity," Wallace said. "I was in some different situations, and those are what they are, but I'm looking for a fresh start. I'm here, and this team gives me a chance to do the things that I like to do and the things that I'm best at. We have the team, we have the play-calling to do it here; more of an aggressive play-calling style. That's why I chose to come here, because I felt like it gave the best opportunity to make big plays like I want to do."

Wallace admitted that he might be "a step, a half of a step" slower now than he was in Pittsburgh, as so many go-routes have taken a bit of a toll on his legs. However, he also feels like he is a much smarter receiver now from having been tested by so many quality cornerbacks.


During Wallace's brief time with the Ravens – he was a regular at the OTA practices – teammates and Harbaugh have raved about how the veteran has conducted himself and performed on the field. The Ravens will have to wait to see the impact Perriman will bring to the offense, but they are already excited about what Wallace adds.

"He's not only a deep threat, but he making plays, not only up the field but on contested throws," Ravens safety Eric Weddle said. "There's a reason why he was one of the best wide receivers in the league a few years ago, because he's talented and can run fast. He's committed, he's eager to prove himself."