Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:14am
With longtime deep threat Torrey Smith in San Francisco and his replacement, first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman, out for going on four weeks, the Ravens passing game has seemed to lack a down-field dimension through training camp and the first half of the taken on a different look than years past.
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, while acknowledging that missing top-end speed, said the team has other ways of getting chunks of yardage in the passing game than by hitting a receiver who has run past his defender.
“We’ve hit a lot of deep balls; you saw last week if you were in Philadelphia,” Trestman said. “We went on the edge and practiced and made some plays on the edge. [If] you went on the deep ball in the National Football League, you don’t have to go by your guy to beat him. The guy can be on top of you, and you can back-shoulder throw. That’s a vertical throw, too, and we [had] a bunch of that in the games, in the practices anyways. We got one by Marlon [Brown] in the game.
“We have enough speed to get down-field,” Tresman said. “It’s [about] how we do it and how we scheme it and approach it. Our guys are fast enough.”
The down-field passing game has been a big part of the Ravens offense, with quarterback Joe Flacco completing 21 of 56 passes over 20 yards down-field for 663 yards with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Factor in the seven drops on such passes, and the balls that resulted in Smith’s league-leading 11 pass interference penalties drawn for 229, and you have a big part of the Ravens offense.
Steve Smith has also provided a target down-field, as evidenced by his Week 1 touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kamar Aiken ran the proverbial “Torrey Smith route” early in Saturday’s game against the Eagles. But the return of Perriman, whose speed Trestman said is “one of the big reasons we got him,” will help that aspect of their offense, the story said.
That's 10 days ago. That's eight practices missed.
The hope entering training camp has been for Perriman to compete for a starting wide receiver spot and replace Torrey Smith as the deep threat on the team. That hinges on whether the Ravens' fastest player on the field is just as quick when it comes to digesting the playbook.
"He's a smart young man. He's not going to get behind learning the offense," offensive coordinator Marc 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.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Perriman is "getting closer" to coming back, and he wouldn't rule him out for Thursday's preseason opener. The injuries to Perriman and Marlon Brown have strengthened Kamar Aiken's grip on the No. 2 wide receiver job. The Ravens don't believe Perriman's bruised knee is anything serious, and there's plenty of time for Perriman to catch up even if he misses Thursday's game the story said.
Sunday, August 2, 2015, 9:37am
Some 49ers notes from Saturday's practice:
- QB Colin Kaepernick had an uneven practice, but when he was on, the results were pretty. Such as the time he hooked up with WR Torrey Smith deep down the right side, beating Marcus Cromartie on a particularly nice throw. But Kaepernick also seemed to revert on a couple of passes, such as the deep ball down the left side that wobbled as it approached Bruce Ellington, giving Kenneth Acker time to react and knock it down. Smith also had an acrobatic one-handed grab on a Kaepernick out pass to the left sideline.
- Someone who did not necessarily shine? Tight end Vernon Davis, who had a drop and also a miscommunication with Kaepernick. Davis was still running in the middle of the field and looking toward the end zone as the ball landed at his side.
- Running back Reggie Bush was held out by coach Jim Tomsula after the rookie coach saw the 10th-year veteran getting in some extra stretching. "I'm not going to wait to see Reggie tired and (then) give him a break," Tomsula said. "He's been doing this for a long time. Our goal is to not get Reggie tired. He's in shape."
Perriman has the physical tools (6’2, 4.24 40-yard dash), to replace Torrey Smith in the Ravens’ lineup from the start, but he has to learn Marc Trestman’s offense and prove that he can catch the ball consistently. If Gillmore wins the starting job, he'll be a deep sleeper in Trestman's TE-friendly offense.
Ravens WR Steve L Smith will presumably lock down one of the starting spots. Despite the possibility of a lightened snap count for the veteran, Smith Sr. will play a huge role in the passing game. He’s the unquestioned leader of the group.
Smith was the #20 WR in standard formats and #18 in PPR, but he did most of his damage in the first six weeks of the season when he was #3 and #4, respectively. He was a fantasy WR4 the rest of the way, though he did have his moments. The Ravens can’t afford to put Smith out to pasture because they let Torrey Smith walk in free agency and the team’s receiver corps is severely lacking experience. Smith has some upside given his ADP (8th/9th round) and the arrival of pass-happy OC Marc Trestman, who should be able to figure out how to best utilize Smith’s skill set on a more consistent basis.
While it seems like yesterday that a young Joe Flacco was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens, he’s already heading into his eighth season as an NFL quarterback. He’s a seasoned, mature veteran and the leader of one of the winningest pro football franchises over the last decade. Flacco is the Super Bowl XLVII MVP and has the most playoff wins of any NFL quarterback since he entered the league in 2008. Last season, he had his best statistical outing yet, putting up 3,986 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. Nobody wants to see those numbers regress even if Flacco has his fourth coordinator in four years. In fact, the hope is that he gets even better and breaks the 4,000-yard milestone. When asked about what he’ll do to better his game in 2015, Flacco didn’t say a single thing about stats, wins or any accolades, such as getting a Pro Bowl nod for the first time. Instead, he named three specific goals: 1) Stay healthy 2) Maintain strong communication with his OC Marc Trestman 3) Work on his footwork
Perhaps the most important fantasy-related item to take away here is Flacco building his relationship with Trestman. The story said Flacco isn’t worried about the offense under Trestman due to its similarity to the system Gary Kubiak implemented last season. Flacco is ranked 16th among our QBs this year. He lost his deep threat in Torrey Smith but the team drafted Breshad Perriman, who is expected to start alongside Steve L Smith, and fill the deep threat void. We project Flacco for 4,259 yards, which would put him tenth. He'll continue to have QB2 value and probably could start for your fantasy team in certain matchups.
Monday, July 6, 2015, 6:41pm
Clayton, who's now retired, wound up catching 44 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie as he started 10 games. And Torrey Smith, the former Maryland standout now with the San Francisco 49ers via a five-year, $40 million contract this offseason, caught 50 passes for 847 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie second-round draft pick in 2011.
Perriman is eyeing a starting job and is hoping to make an immediate impact as a deep threat and otherwise following an offseason where he flashed playmaking skills and explosiveness along with a tendency to lose his concentration and drop passes.
“It’s a goal of mine, but at the same time, it’s not really on my mind," Perriman said as the Ravens concluded their June minicamp. "I’m just really trying to focus on getting better every day, just going out there, take it day by day and see how it plays out."
The story said Perriman had one extremely rough practice where he dropped four passes, but didn't dwell on his mistakes or make excuses for his lapses. He is competing with Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro for a starting job opposite five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smtih. But as the story also points out, at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Perriman's size and 4.22 speed in the 40-yard dash would provide a natural complementary presence to Smith. Perriman is actually listed 41st on our WR list, so he's getting later-round draft attention and owners are taking a chance on him as depth on their fantasy team.
49ers.com writer Joe Fann calls Torrey Smith the team's best free agent addition:
The 49ers needed a compliment to Anquan Boldin, and they found the perfect man for the job. Smith is far more than a one-trick pony. Yes, he excels at stretching the field and getting behind defensive backs, but he’s already shown the ability to catch balls in traffic on short and intermediate routes as well. On two specific minicamp plays, Smith caught the ball on a stopping route, then spun away from his defender and accelerated away from everyone in pursuit. I’m not sure I saw him drop a ball this offseason.
Smith got off to a slow start in 2014, posting just six catches for 85 yards in the first three games. Over the final 13 games of the season, he averaged 3.3 receptions for 52 yards and 0.85 touchdowns, which equates to #20 WR-type numbers in PPR formats. As it stands, he finished as the #29 WR in PPR and #19 in standard formats (thanks to the high touchdown rate), which is the fourth time he has finished in the top 23 (in standard formats) in his four-year career. He joins a 49ers receiving corps that has lost Michael Crabtree and has a still-effective Anquan Boldin as a possession receiver. Smith will serve as a deep threat for QB Colin Kaepernick, though this move has to be considered a downgrade from an offensive/quarterback standpoint since the 49ers are typically run-heavy and Joe Flacco is pretty adept at putting touch on the deep ball. Throwing with touch has not been one of Kaepernick's strengths, though he has been working on his passing technique his offseason.
The speedy first-round pick arguably had his roughest practice Tuesday since joining the Ravens, as he dropped four passes, including one deep sideline pass after he had sprinted past cornerback Jimmy Smith and was wide open.
“Just really paying attention, getting too tired and really not focusing,” Perriman said when asked for an explanation about the drops. “I don’t really make excuses for it. They should have been caught, but that’s something that won’t happen too often.”
49ers WR Torrey Smith has indeed added a new dimension to San Francisco's pass game. With Smith in the fold, the 49ers were able to attack all levels of the defense. Smith's home-run ability was most evident when he hooked up with Colin Kaepernick on a 40-yard jump ball down the left side line at the expense of second-year cornerback Dontae Johnson. Kaepernick and Smith routinely connected in the minicamp, but on the final day, the deep throw showcased the budding chemistry between the two. Johnson had great coverage on the play, but Kaepernick was able to put the ball up with enough loft for the fifth-year veteran receiver to go up and get the ball. Smith caught slants and intermediate routes for most of the camp, but it's hard not to overlook his ability to stretch the defense and compete for the football at its highest point. Smith's speed and leaping ability was on display throughout the camp. The 49ers will surely tap into those talents come training camp.
Smith got off to a slow start in 2014, posting just six catches for 85 yards in the first three games. Over the final 13 games of the season, he averaged 3.3 receptions for 52 yards and 0.85 touchdowns, which equates to #20 WR-type numbers in PPR formats. As it stands, he finished as the #29 WR in PPR and #19 in standard formats (thanks to the high touchdown rate), which is the fourth time he has finished in the top 23 (in standard formats) in his four-year career. He joins a 49ers receiving corps that has lost Michael Crabtree and has a still-effective Anquan Boldin as a possession receiver. Smith will serve as a deep threat for Kaepernick, though this move has to be considered a downgrade from an offensive/quarterback standpoint since the 49ers are typically run-heavy and Joe Flacco is pretty adept at putting touch on the deep ball. Throwing with touch has not been one of Kaepernick's strengths, though he has been working on his passing technique this offseason.
After working on his throwing motion and putting touch on the deep ball this offseason, Kaepernick is grateful for the injection of speed brought by newcomers Torrey Smith, Jerome Simpson and Reggie Bush.
“They’ve been huge so far and bring a lot of speed to the field, bring a lot of deep vertical threat,” Kaepernick said.
And that’s not to mention tight end Vernon Davis, who has looked “extremely fast” stretching the field this offseason, according to HC Jim Tomsula.
Davis is a talent, but the team didn't do a good job of using him last season. His 50 targets were his fewest since 2008, and his usage was way too low considering he has finished in the top 8 at his position in four of the last six seasons. He was targeted just once in the red zone after seeing 20 red zone targets in 2013. It's up to new OC Geep Chryst (formerly the team's QB coach) to get Davis more involved in the offense. Given his 15th round ADP, he's a very low-risk pick given his upside.
He stole the show last week during the Ravens’ second OTA practice open to the media. Aiken hauled in a deep bomb, stretched for a fingertips grab over the middle, tiptoed the sideline and out leapt a defender for a score.
Aiken was a jack-of-all-trades last season too in a breakout campaign. He caught 24 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season. He scored a 19-yard touchdown against the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs.
With Torrey Smith in San Francisco and Jacoby Jones in San Diego, Aiken now has a chance to become a starting wide receiver. There’s a lot of competition for the spot, but Aiken is competing on the first team and looks to have just as much a chance as any other.
First impressions matter. And so far, wide receiver Breshad Perriman is leaving a good one.
Just ask CSNBaltimore.com’s Clifton Brown, who named three things that immediately stood out to him while getting an up-close look at the Ravens’ first-rounder: 1) Perriman’s size, 2) his potential as a possession receiver and 3) his strong hands.
“I think in addition to being a deep threat, which is his primary strength, he’ll be a guy who the Ravens hope can be a possession receiver as well, make some tough catches over the middle,” he said.
Then, there’s the biggest knock on Perriman since he was drafted: the drops.
The only thing is he hasn’t shown that to be a problem since he’s been with the Ravens. There were reports he dropped a ball in rookie camp three weeks ago, but there haven’t been any since.
The Ravens needed a receiver to replace Torrey Smith and Perriman fits the bill. He has great speed, so he’ll complement Steve L. Smith’s intermediate game. Throw in a pass-happy OC Marc Trestman and a solid quarterback in Joe Flacco and it all adds up to potentially heavy snaps and targets for Perriman, presuming he can pick things up quickly as a rookie.
"It's the first thing everyone sees -- how fast the ball comes out of his hand," QB Dennis Gile said. That's a result of all the alterations -- from his head to the bottom of his cleats -- that the quarterback has made. "It's not about how hard you can throw it or how fast you can get rid of it," Gile said. "It's how quickly he can release it while still being relaxed."
One of the main things that changed was Kaepernick's stance. Gile said it was too narrow. That is, his feet were close together -- "real tall on his tippy toes," Gile said -- and when he took a step to throw the ball, that step was too big, too exaggerated. That elongated his release.
It's also helped his accuracy. Gile said Kaepernick made the biggest gains with his deep passes. That has to be good news for wideouts like Torrey Smith and Jerome Simpson, who were brought in this offseason to add firepower to a deep passing attack that had been lightly utilized in previous seasons.
Gile said he expected Kaepernick to return to Phoenix and continue to work on his craft during the team's break in early July.
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value.
We currently project Smith for 879 yards, which is a bit lower than his four-year average. His production this season depends largely on the long-ball accuracy of Colin Kaepernick, who was not good in that aspect of the game in 2014, but showed solid deep-ball accuracy in 2013. Kaepernick has spent time this offseason with QB guru Dennis Gile working on his throwing motion and deep-ball accuracy.
- Page 1