Ravens Shake-Ups on Offense
The Ravens received devastating news this past Saturday. Breshad Perriman had suffered a partially torn ACL in his left knee. His 2016 season would be in jeopardy after already missing his entire rookie season with a PCL injury on the right knee.
Baltimore also parted ways with their left tackle, Eugene Monroe. More on Monroe later, but lets start with Perriman.
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The Ravens had better news to report in the next few days regarding Breshad Perriman. The 2015 first round pick would not require reconstructive surgery. Dr. James Andrews, which is often the kiss of death when an athlete is mentioned in the same sentence as him, performed a stem cell injection which should promote healing in the knee with rest.
However, Perriman had received the injection last year for the PCL sprain. It did not take to him the way they had hoped. His recovery was slow and the knee injury was re-aggravated practicing running routes prior to a mid-season game. There is no timetable for Perriman’s return to action.
Ian Rapoport, NFL Network Insider, speculated on Twitter that Perriman could start training camp on the PUP list, and be ready for the season.
In that case, you are asking Perriman to develop in season. A guy who has exactly one day of training camp under his belt in two seasons. There just isn’t the practice time in season these days to bring him along at decent rate. With the CBA rules limiting the practice time, most of it is dedicated to installing a game plan for the week. Very little time for developing fundamental skills that a young receiver with zero experience needs to gain.
If Perriman starts the regular season on the PUP list, he’ll miss the first six games and then be evaluated to see if he can join the team.
In either situation, the outlook is not a good one for Perriman and his development in year two. But it is still early to call him a complete bust. You can’t give up on him with two years of team control left and a fifth year option the first round picks get. Maybe he gets to see the field briefly in 2016. Hope he can stay healthy and get a full camp in in 2017 and see what the ceiling is for him at that point.
When you think about it, a guy like Paul Kruger, a second round pick in 2009, had one season as a starter for the Ravens. He was stuck on a deep depth chart. Relegated to special teams and rotated in on defense rarely for his first two seasons. He was a guy they wanted to bulk up from outside linebacker to play defensive end. He didn’t play well, so they wanted him to drop the weight and get back to being an edge rusher. He was pretty much non-existent for two seasons. A role player in 2011. A starter in 2012 that played well enough to earn a nice second contract with the Cleveland Browns that the Ravens could not match. No one is calling Paul Kruger a bust, despite really just one excellent season here. First round pick carries higher expectations, but my point remains the same. Plenty of time for Perriman to make an impact here.
If anything, the Ravens anticipated this to be Perriman’s actual rookie year anyway, which is why they addressed the receiver position the way they did in the offseason. Adding Mike Wallace in free agency. Drafting a speedster in Chris Moore and even taking a late round flier on Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. I think Reynolds is more of a “cool story” pick like those 15th+ round baseball draft picks. The Ravens added depth to a vulnerable position, not just because of Perriman.
During the offseason, the Ravens likely looked at the position with Steve Smith Sr. as a guy who is not getting any younger and coming back from an Achilles tear. You have Perriman entering his real rookie year after the knee injury and who knows how quick he develops. You have Michael Campanaro who hasn’t stayed healthy for a full season since high school, but nice upside when he’s out there. He’s also local kid, late round “cool story pick”. Serviceable Kamar Aiken is there. Marlon Brown was let go. Darren Waller they want to become the fifth tight end. So, he’s likely gone without a flat out amazing training camp. Unproven with nice size Daniel Brown. Unproven Jeremy Butler.
The Ravens basically don’t want a situation where Aiken becomes the number one option again if Perriman was slow to develop, Smith is slowed in recovery, or slowed physically. Campanaro goes down again, leaving them where they are in a spot where they are back to Aiken, Butler, who knows. Or Aiken and four TEs in an empty set. They didn’t want to be left scrambling to get the next Chris Givens, Chris Matthews, etc… Aiken is serviceable, but let’s be real. Not a game changer. This worst case scenario would not help Joe Flacco one bit.
They added depth in Wallace and Moore because big picture, it was necessary, in a worst possible scenario situation. Orioles Manager, Buck Showalter, has a plan B pitcher before every game. Who comes in if the first batter of the game rips a line drive off of the pitchers head and his starter is knocked out? That player knows who they are that day and has to be ready. Coaches, organizations think of everything. They have plan B’s for everything.
Wallace, Moore, Reynolds are plan B guys, probably nothing more or less than that. Wallace is plan B as a veteran to spell Smith Sr. and challenge a young but similar player in Perriman, if healthy. Moore is a plan B to stretch the field when Perriman isn’t out there. Reynolds is a plan B they probably hope to stash on the practice squad as insurance for Campanaro, assuming Reynolds is also going to be used as a slot type guy. Aiken get’s in where he fits in.
Consider the tight end group. Ben Watson was plan B for Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore who was status unknown at the time. They didn’t know Pitta was going to come back. Or that doctors were going to let Pitta decide for himself if he wants to play. Gillmore was looking at two shoulder surgeries but avoided that. Nick Boyle had also gotten himself suspended for the first ten games. The tight end group could have easily been Ben Watson and Maxx Williams for week one. With converted WR Darren Waller as the third option and special teamer. Now it appears they have a surplus at the position.
The fact that Perriman could be done for the year, and the Ravens roster still boasts depth at the receiving positions, means they did their job in addressing needs this past offseason. Can’t argue with that.
The other news of note is the Ravens parting ways with left tackle, Eugene Monroe. It goes without saying that the selection of Ronnie Stanley was another “plan B” if the Ravens decided to make this move after Monroe was rumored to be on the hot seat back in December.
Monroe has played in 17 games over two seasons since the Ravens gave him a five-year, $37.5M extension in 2014. After not finding a trade partner for the seven-year veteran, his release will cost Baltimore $2.2M in dead money for this season, and $4.4M in 2017. Had there been a trade, or had the Ravens released Monroe prior to June 1st, they would have been on the hook for all $6.6M this season. Had Monroe played here, it would have cost the Ravens $8.7M against the cap. So the Ravens open up $6.5M in cap space with the move. $2.1M if they set aside the $4.4M as carryover to cover next years dead money.
Much speculation will come of the move in light of Monroe being a huge advocate for legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes for everyone, and athletes. I can’t say I disagree with his stance. Monroe is against the NFL’s use of the pain killer, Toradol. An addictive medication that allows players to play though pain, and in some cases mask the pain to a point where a player can do further harm to their bodies by not realizing an injury has occurred.
The first one through the wall always gets the bloodiest. That seems to be Eugene Monroe in this situation. It’s something the NFL should take a hard look at. It’s something states governments are legalizing and treating like alcohol. State regulated, legal to do in certain places, legal to use in your home. Marijuana doesn’t posses the addictive nature of opioid drugs that can lead to other problems on a more personal level. Monroe is blazing a trail (no pun intended). Will anyone follow him? Until the players unite strongly against these drugs that could do more long term harm than short term good, there will be no change.
I’m in no position to speculate on what Eugene Monroe does in the locker room. If he refuses to stand in line and get the Toradol shot, and that prevents him for making more starts, the Ravens sort of have their hands tied. Marijuana is not an option today. If Monroe won’t take the shot, a thousand other guys will get in that line if it means playing football and getting a paycheck. If not taking the shot means you aren’t making starts, the Ravens cannot justify paying you. It’s that simple.
But I do side with Monroe in the fact that there has to be better options for recovery. If it’s not drugs, maybe it’s more bye weeks. Maybe a 60-man roster allowing for more rotating players in, keep players fresh. The amount of padding the players wear these days seems almost minimal, in the name of making players lighter, faster. Could that lead to more bumps and bruises? I digress.
With the Ravens parting ways with Monroe, it opens the door for rookie, Ronnie Stanley, to play on Joe Flacco’s blind side. Stanley has guard, right and left tackle versatility which made him attractive to the Ravens. Also the skill set and academic knack for zone blocking.
Monroe’s departure also makes the left guard position one with a wide open competition now. Stanley was likely to man the guard spot opposite Marshal Yanda. Or, man right tackle and kick Rick Wagner to that spot. If Stanley and Wagner are the bookends, Yanda at right guard, Jeremy Zuttah the center, we could see a number of guys vying for that last spot. John Urschel is entering year three. Ryan Jensen is another. Rookie Alex Lewis could make a case for right tackle or left guard, playing some guard at Nebraska. They also signed Vladimir Ducasse, who started 11 games for the Chicago Bears last year.
A new position battle to follow through the summer. One thing is for sure. The Ravens planned for extenuating circumstances like this. Some of them are playing out pretty early on here.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]