Practice makes perfect and the better you practice or play the more reps you get.
It’s that simple for Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
In yesterday’s throttling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two such players that fit into that category were wide receivers Kamar Aiken and seventh round draft pick Michael Campanaro.
All throughout the summer, the competition between Campanaro and Kamar Aiken was one certainly worth watching. Both players battled each and every day to earn their spot on the Ravens roster.
On Sunday, with Marlon Brown sidelined with a hip issue and coupled with Jacoby Jones struggles, the Ravens turned to both Campanaro and Aiken and were rewarded as the young receivers each caught touchdown passes to help the Ravens jump out an early 28-0 lead in the first quarter.
“It’s helpful. You want to do it in the flow of the game – in the flow of trying to be as good as you can – and score points and execute and all those kind of things. The fact that those guys … The fact that this league is a league where injuries occur makes that pretty much a fact,” Harbaugh stated at the podium on Monday about getting other players involved in the offense.
“So, for those young guys to play and to play as well as they do and for the offensive linemen to go in there and perform the way they do [is impressive]. But, it’s a practice sport. We practice every single day. So, they get reps practicing, and you have a pretty good idea of how they’re going to perform.
“But until they get in the game and you see them do it in live action against another team, that really gives you the best indicator that you can have. So, it has been very positive to see those guys play and play well when called upon.”
While Harbaugh may have envisioned just how well Campanaro would play, the proof as they say, was in the pudding.
Campanaro who was active for the first time in 2014 offensive play count reached 27 including 14 pass plays. In his 14 pass plays the rookie wideout was targeted two times and hauled in both passes for 28 total yards including his 19 yard touchdown reception.
On Monday, Harbaugh alluded to the fact that after seeing Camp’s performance it could lead to more of a role in the Ravens new offense.
“Heck yeah, we’ve seen that all along. We’ve always felt that way. It’s good to get him out there. Sometimes you get a nick or a bump, and Marlon [Brown] went in pregame and couldn’t play, so Michael [Campanaro] gets a shot. Again, it goes back to practice,” Harbs stated about the Clarksville, Maryland native.
“You keep practicing, and guys prepare, and you always talk to them: ‘Hey, your time is coming. I don’t know when, but it’s coming. Be ready. Be as ready as you can be when the time comes.’ And he’s another guy that does a good job of that, and it showed up in the game. So yes, the answer is: Yes.”
Increasing roles could be hard to come by barring injuries but along with Campanaro, Aiken continues to impress when called upon.
Aiken has played in four of the six games this season and his receptions have been timely, including his first touchdown catch of the season.
Against Tampa, he saw action in 15 total offensive play counts. Of his 11 play counts involved in the passing game, the journeyman pass catcher was targeted four times while hauling in two receptions for a total of 20 yards including his 17 yard touchdown score.
Including his two catches from Sunday, Aiken now has eight receptions for 80 yards on the season.
Unlike seasons past, Joe Flacco has developing depth at the receiver position in the forms of Aiken and Campanaro.
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Gifs courtesy of Gordon Dixon