‘It’s been a real long time’

Af­ter more than a year, Per­ri­man ea­ger for his de­but Thurs­day night

Baltimore Sun - - NFL & RAVENS - By Jeff Zre­biec jeff.zre­biec@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jef­fzre­biec­sun Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Ed­ward Lee con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

The Ravens’ pre­sea­son fi­nale Thurs­day night against the New Or­leans Saints will be high­lighted by the com­pe­ti­tion for a few open ros­ter spots and the likely NFL de­but of the team’s 2015 first-round draft pick.

Af­ter com­plet­ing another prac­tice and spend­ing about a half-hour af­ter­ward with team­mate Mike Wal­lace catch­ing balls from the JUGS ma­chine, Ravens re­ceiver Bre­shad Per­ri­man pro­nounced him­self ready to make his long-awaited de­but at the Mercedes-Benz Su­per­dome.

“It’s very ex­cit­ing,” Per­ri­man said. “I’ve been wait­ing for a long time and it’s fi­nally com­ing. We got a pre­sea­son game Thurs­day and then we have the Buf­falo Bills af­ter that. I can’t be more ex­cited. … I haven’t suited up for any games since col­lege. It’s been a real long time. Just to think about it, I’ll be able to go out there with my team­mates and my friends. It’s just crazy.”

Per­ri­man, who missed his rookie sea­son with a strained pos­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in his right knee, then suf­fered a par­tially torn ACL in his left knee dur­ing or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties in June, was ac­ti­vated from the phys­i­cally-un­able-to-per­form list Aug. 18. He said he’s been cleared phys­i­cally to play, but the fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether he’s out there Thurs­day will be made by coach John Har­baugh.

Har­baugh said Mon­day that if Per­ri­man is cleared by the doc­tors, he would play against New Or­leans.

“I know I’m go­ing to be ner­vous. I was ner­vous be­fore ev­ery game even in col­lege,” Per­ri­man said. “But at the same time, I feel like it gives me a lit­tle bit of an edge. I think it makes me play bet­ter. I have no prob­lem with it.”

Per­ri­man has been prac­tic­ing the past week and a half, and he said that he has “no com­plaints” about how he feels phys­i­cally. He also main­tains that the health of his knee isn’t on his mind.

“I’m just try­ing to play fast and get bet­ter each day,” Per­ri­man said.

Thurs­day should be a nice test for the sec­ond-year wide re­ceiver, who will be look­ing to so­lid­ify his role on a deep re­ceiv­ing corps. Har­baugh ac­knowl­edged Mon­day that the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­ally wanted to see Per­ri­man get into a game be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son be­gins. It ap­pears Per­ri­man will do just that.

“I know my role when I first came in, and I feel like it still hasn’t changed,” Per­ri­man said. “I just want to do my part no mat­ter what it is.” Ravens down to 75: The Ravens made four moves Tues­day to get their ros­ter down to the re­quired 75, waiv­ing un­drafted kicker Wil Lutz, putting rookie third-round de­fen­sive end Bron­son Kau­fusi and un­drafted rookie free-agent tackle Stephane Nem­bot on in­jured re­serve, and mov­ing run­ning back Lorenzo Tali­a­ferro to the re­serve phys­i­cally-un­able-to-per­form list.

Tali­a­ferro, who is still re­cov­er­ing from surgery in Oc­to­ber to re­pair a Lis­franc foot sprain and didn’t prac­tice in train­ing camp, will be side­lined for at least the first six reg­u­lar-sea­son games. The third-year run- Bre­shad Per­ri­man (18), prac­tic­ing Tues­day with fel­low wide re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace, missed his en­tire rookie sea­son with a strained lig­a­ment in his right knee. ning back now has an ex­tended op­por­tu­nity to get health­ier, while the Ravens buy them­selves time to see how their run­ning back sit­u­a­tion shakes out. A fourth-round pick in 2014, Tali­a­ferro en­tered the sum­mer be­hind Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, rookie Ken­neth Dixon and pos­si­bly Ter­rance West (Tow­son Univer­sity, North­west­ern High).

Kau­fusi broke his an­kle Aug. 4 and will miss his en­tire rookie sea­son.

The Ravens will have to cut their ros­ter from 75 to 53 by 4 p.m. Sat­ur­day. Hurst turned the page: For ob­vi­ous rea­sons, James Hurst might have been one of the hap­pi­est Ravens to see Joe Flacco re­turn Sat­ur­day night.

Hurst was in at left tackle when he was pushed back into the quar­ter­back in the fi­nal minute of an even­tual 16-13 win against the then-St. Louis Rams on Nov. 22. Flacco tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee and was lost for the rest of the sea­son.

“I’m just happy to see him out there,” Hurst said af­ter Mon­day’s prac­tice. “What’s in the past is in the past. I’ve talked to him about it, and that’s re­solved. I’m just see­ing what I can do bet­ter. It’s foot­ball, and I’m re­ally happy for him that he’s healthy and that he looks good and that we’re ready to go.”

Hurst, who has started 13 games in the past two sea­sons and is listed as rookie Ron­nie Stan­ley’s pri­mary backup on the team’s depth chart, said Flacco’s re­turn in­spired his team­mates.

“It was great,” Hurst said. “He was fired up. Just hav­ing your leader on of­fense come out there and play and play well like he did, he’s such a com­mand­ing pres­ence and a great leader for us. Hav­ing him out there boosts ev­ery­one’s con­fi­dence.” End zone: Saints coach Sean Pay­ton told re­porters Tues­day that he’ll play his starters about a quar­ter Thurs­day night. Har­baugh was non­com­mit­tal about who will play for the Ravens, say­ing only that the team will ap­proach the fourth pre­sea­son game “how we al­ways do.” Har­baugh tra­di­tion­ally holds out most starters and sev­eral top back­ups in the last pre­sea­son game. … Allen, cen­ter Jeremy Zut­tah and safety Lar­dar­ius Webb (back) re­turned to prac­tice af­ter miss­ing Mon­day’s work­out. The new ab­sen­tees were out­side line­backer Elvis Dumervil and corner­back Sha­reece Wright, while run­ning back Ken­neth Dixon (knee), tight ends Den­nis Pitta (fin­ger) and Maxx Wil­liams, left guard John Urschel (bruise), out­side line­backer Za’Dar­ius Smith (an­kle), nose tackle Bran­don Wil­liams and de­fen­sive backs Matt Elam (knee), Ken­drick Lewis and Jer­raud Pow­ers re­mained side­lined.

KEVIN RICHARD­SON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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