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Ravens upbeat about Perriman despite lingering injury

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The Sports Xchange

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens are heading into their first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday likely without their 2015 first round draft pick, wide receiver Breshad Perriman.

Perriman has missed almost two weeks of practice because of an injured knee. He was expected to compete for a starting role but injuries have prevented him from getting reps with starting quarterback Joe Flacco.

Despite the setback, Ravens coach John Harbaugh still has not officially ruled Perriman out of the Saints game. However, Harbaugh admitted it would be tough to get him in the game because of the missed practice time.

When Perriman has been on the field, he impressed his teammates and coaches with his blazing speed. The Ravens are hoping Perriman can be a downfield threat and offset the loss of Torrey Smith, who signed with the 49ers in the offseason.

New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman also was not overly concerned about the time Perriman has missed.

“He’s not going to get behind learning the offense,” Trestman said. “Obviously, he doesn’t have the opportunity to develop his skill set on the grass, but we can’t do anything about that. We’ll work hard with Bobby (Engram, wide receivers coach) and our coaches to get him ready as quickly as we can and put him in a position where he can compete. When that time comes, we’ll get started.”

Marlon Brown, another receiver who was expected to earn playing time, has missed several practices with a hamstring and back injury. However, he returned on Aug. 10 and could see time in the preseason game.

The absence of Perriman and Brown has provided an opportunity for some others to shine.

Kamar Aiken, a third-year player, has especially played well during camp and could take over one of the starting spots opposite of Steve Smith Sr. Rookie Darren Waller, a sixth round pick out of Georgia Tech, also has exceeded expectations with a strong camp and has come up with several big catches. Michael Campanaro, a second-year player out of Wake Forest, could also earn some reps if he can stay healthy.

Jeremy Butler, DeAndre Carter, Aldrick Robinson, Daniel Brown, Tom Nelson and Trent Steelman are in the mix for one of the final spots at wide receiver.

Harbaugh has been impressed by the overall play of the group.

“I like what I see,” Harbaugh said. “The potential is there for those guys, but I want to see more. I want to see a guy do it over and over and over again, and we probably aren’t far enough into camp to see that. But yes, we’ve seen flashes from everybody.”

Flacco has also been impressed with the receivers so far. However, the real test comes this week against the Saints.

Flacco admitted he needs to get more reps with Perriman.

“The bottom line is you have to go out there and do reps, and you have to get live reps,” Flacco said. “You have to see how they are when they’re getting hit and when they’ve got guys coming up and pressing them and being physical and all that stuff. But it also comes down to how talented of a group – of a guy – you have, me and him together, how talented we are together. With him, from what I’ve seen, he’s a really talented player, and we’ve just got to get him out here and get working together.”

— Defensive end Brent Urban, a second-year player out of Virginia, tore his bicep knocking down a pass in practice Aug. 6 and will undergo surgery, likely ending his season.

This is the second straight year Urban, a fourth round pick, suffered a major injury in training camp. In his rookie year, he tore his ACL in July and missed all of last season.

Urban was third on the depth chart behind Chris Canty and Lawrence Guy. But at 6-feet-7, 295 pounds, the Ravens were expecting Urban to be a significant contributor this season. Now, he might not see the field until 2016.

“Personally, I was really counting on him,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I thought he would really shine, and I still think he will. It’s just one of those things. He has had four straight years where he has had serious injuries. That has been a bugaboo for him that he’s going to have to overcome, but knowing this guy, he’s going to fight like crazy to do it. In terms of the long picture of his career, that’s going to be the thing – he’s going to have to stay healthy. As his body matures – becomes more flexible, becomes more powerful through the full range of motion – because he’s such a tall guy, he’s going to have to find a way to stay healthy, and I believe he will.”

Urban is the second defensive player to suffer that type of injury. Safety Matt Elam also tore a bicep earlier in camp and is also likely out for the season. Elam was competing for the strong safety job with veteran Will Hill.

“Very rare injury,” Harbaugh said. “He was reaching – it wasn’t even a really physical deal, just a fluke thing – and it tore. That’s about a 12-week, 14-week injury, so we’ll have to decide all those things once we get to the end of training camp as far as whether we would put those guys on IR (Injured Reserve), put them on designation (to return).

— Second-year tight end Crockett Gillmore has taken over the top spot on the depth chart while putting together a solid camp.

After being drafted in the third round out of Colorado State, Gillmore was primarily seen as a blocking tight end, especially at 6-feet-6, 256 pounds. However, Gillmore took over the second spot behind Owen Daniels when Dennis Pitta went down with a season-ending hip injury. Daniels has since followed former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to Denver and there are questions whether Pitta will ever be able to return from his hip injury.

That has put Gillmore in a position to serve primarily as a pass-catcher, rather than just a blocking tight end.

“It’s camp, and we’re all grinding through it,” Gillmore said. “We’re doing everything we can to be the best football players we can be. It’s really just part of the regimen of going in and going to work every day.”

Gillmore has credited Pitta with helping him get better at the position.

“Dennis has always been a guy that’s excited to help anybody around him,” Gillmore said.

“Obviously, his numbers have helped, but we’re just excited to have him around. We watch film with him, because that’s your ideal to be a tight end. A Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champ, you’re going to listen to him.”

— Defensive tackle Brandon Williams was part of a unit last season that allowed the NFL’s fourth fewest ground yards per game (88.3). It was the 19th consecutive season Baltimore has permitted less than four yards per carry (3.6) — the longest active streak in the league.

Williams doesn’t expect any type of drop-off the season, especially with the progress of second-year defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.

“I feel like the defensive line is doing great,” Williams said. “Obviously, we’ve got some young guys in there that are still learning (and) still making strides, but other than that, I think we’re executing well (and) doing a great job. Coach ‘C.B.’ (defensive line coach Clarence Brooks) is doing a great job teaching us anytime we make a mistake or anytime something goes wrong. He makes sure he comes in and lets us know what we have to improve on. So, I feel like everybody is doing a great job, and that’s the No. 1 thing we pride ourselves on, is stopping the run. I feel like we’re doing a great job.”

— Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has played under four different offensive coordinators in the past four years. Nonetheless, the player nicknamed “Joe Cool” has been unflappable despite the turnover.

This season, Marc Trestman has taken over as offensive coordinator for Gary Kubiak, who left to take the head coaching job in Denver. Flacco said Trestman and Kubiak have numerous similarities in their play-calling, so it has not been that big of a transition.

“I’ve tried to go into this whole thing open-minded the last couple years, and I think it’s been for the best,” Flacco said. “I think it teaches you things; it allows you to learn a lot. You bounce ideas off of each other, and I think it challenges you – in a good way – to continue to get better. And it challenges the guys around us, and I think we’ve got a good group and a group that’s willing to take that challenge and make it into a good thing. So, as long as we look at it that way, I think it’s all good.”

Under Kubiak last season, Flacco threw for a career-high 3,986 yards and 27 touchdown passes. The Ravens also had their most prolific offense, setting franchise records 409 points scored and 5,838 total yards.

Trestman has been impressed by Flacco’s approach to the game. The quarterback looks poised to have another big year, judging by the way he has performed in camp.

“We think we’re getting better, and we think we’re going to get to know each other better,” Trestman said. “We’re building a level of trust that takes time. It’s not going to happen in four weeks or six months. It’s going to take time, and hopefully we’re going to be able to expedite that quickly and be ready to have a firm backbone and foundation when the season starts in four weeks or five weeks.”


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