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John Harbaugh 'hates' Breshad Perriman's absence

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The Baltimore Ravens are an alleged playoff contender with red flags surfacing in their passing attack.

Joe Flacco watched deep threat Torrey Smith and security blanket Owen Daniels depart for greener pastures in March, leaving behind a trail of question marks in the receiving corps.

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Flacco's top threat is 36-year-old Steve Smith, who failed to record a 100-yard performance in the second half of 2014 regular season. Second-round pick Maxx Williams has yet to overtake Crockett Gillmore for the starting tight-end job.

Most worrisome, however, is first-round speedster Breshad Perriman, who has missed 14 straight practices with a strained tendon in his knee.

"I hate that he's missing it, hate that he's not out here," coach John Harbaugh conceded over the weekend. "I have a knot in the pit of my stomach in some ways about it. In other ways, I know it's all out of our control, and I'll put it in God's hands and let him take care of it. To me, that's the best strategy, right there."

Flacco needs Perriman to emerge as a dangerous playmaker capable of stretching the field vertically and horizontally.

If Perriman can't overtake special-teamer Kamar Aiken for the No. 2 job early in the season, opposing defenses will stack the box, daring Flacco to beat them over the top.

Here's what else we learned on Monday:

1. Perriman isn't the only receiver sitting out. Owner Jerry Jones confirmed that Dez Bryant will miss a second consecutive preseason game with a strained left hamstring.

2. Similarly, Alshon Jeffery will miss the Bears' second preseason game with a mild calf strain. Although Jeffery remains sidelined, he did shed his walking boot and crutches on Monday.

3. On a positive note, Victor Cruz declared himself 100 percent recovered from last year's patellar tendon surgery. He's champing at the bit to play in the Giants' second preseason game, though coach Tom Coughlin has yet to give the green light.

4. The Texans activated outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney from the PUP list and eased him into Monday's practice. The 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick is on track for a rotational pass rusher role to begin the season.

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5. Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, vying for the lead role in a committee attack, both returned to practice Monday after missing roughly two weeks with hamstring injuries.

6. On the same day that rookie tailback David Johnson (hamstring) returned to a limited practice, the Cardinals signed ex-Titans backfield star Chris Johnson to a one-year contract. Johnson will have three weeks to prove to coach Bruce Arians that he's a better second-fiddle to Andre Ellington than the team's third-round pick.

7. In offensive line news, the Seahawks are shifting right tackle Justin Britt inside to guard after the 2014 second-rounder was clown-suited by Von Miller in the preseason opener. Garry Gilliam and Alvin Bailey will swing outside to vie for the right tackle job, leaving Russell Wilson's pass protection in peril -- once again.

8. Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Monday that right tackle Bryan Bulaga remains an option on Aaron Rodgers' blindside if left tackle David Bakhtiari's sore knee forces him to miss time.

9. The Chiefs are holding their collective breath after watching left tackle Eric Fisher go down with an ankle injury in Monday's practice -- two days after right tackle Jeff Allen suffered an MCL sprain in the preseason opener. Fisher will undergo an MRI on the ankle, per coach Andy Reid.

9. The Bucs picked up help for their patchwork offensive line, signing ex-Colts veteran Gosder Cherilus to fill in for injured right tackle Demar Dotson.

11. Buccaneers fans will have to brush up on fourth-round rookie Kwon Alexander. The former LSU star has been promoted to starting middle linebacker, replacing former Cowboys veteran Bruce Carter. Alexander was "outstanding" in the preseason opener, coach Lovie Smith said after the game.

12. Redskins quarterbacks were in the news Monday, as Robert Griffin III's harmless self-motivation was taken out of context. Although RGIII understandably believes he can still become one of the game's best quarterbacks, ex-coach Mike Shanahan's comments in support of backup Kirk Cousins raise an important question: which one gives the Redskins a better chance to win in 2015?

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down Week 1 of the preseason and kicks off a week's worth of spectacular fantasy insight.

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