First people were asking Kamar Aiken if he could handle being a starting wide receiver. Now they are asking if he can be effective without Steve Smith, the Ravens’ No. 1 receiver (micro fractures in back), who is not expected to play Sunday against the Browns.
How well Aiken (11 catches, 165 yards, one touchdown) performs with the Ravens shorthanded at will depend partly on how quarterback Joe Flacco performs. And that is one reason Aiken is not worried.
“It’s great to have Joe as a quarterback, even with us going through all this,” Aiken said during a conference call. “That’s why I feel so confident that we’ll be fine.
“That’s one thing I’ve been able to experience with Joe, compared to other quarterbacks I’ve been with.
“It doesn’t really matter -- the name on the back of the jersey; he’s going to find whoever is open. When you have quarterbacks like that, it encourages you to run your route to win every time, because you (don’t know) if the ball is coming your way. Even if you’re not in the progression, it still might come your way.”
Aiken is coming off his best game of the season with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. But not having Smith represents an adjustment for Flacco and the entire wide receiver corps. Aiken, Marlon Brown, rookie Darren Waller, and newly-acquired Chris Givens will all be asked to carry the load.
Saying the Ravens’ offense is being hit by injuries would be an understatement. Starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) has missed the last three games. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro (back injury) is out for the year. First-round pick Breshad Perriman, the Ravens’ would-be deep threat, has yet to play a snap. Starting tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) was out last week against the Steelers.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Gillmore had a “chance” to play Sunday. But regardless of who plays, Aiken says he is embracing the challenge.
“We’re just going to continue to grind and count on each other,” Aiken said. “We’re a pretty confident group in each other, and I think we’ll get the job done.”
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