Michael Campanaro drew a healthy cheer in his first action of the season on Sunday – and that was just for a fair catch.
Fans were clearly pleased to see the local fan favorite back on the field for the first time since the preseason, and they were also pleased to see a punt caught confidently and cleanly – something Devin Hester had failed to do consistently in his brief tenure with the Ravens.
“The first one is always the toughest one, so it felt good just to be back there,” Campanaro said. “The wind was a little tough to deal with, but we handled it and we didn’t make any too terrible plays. But it worked out great and it felt good to be back out there.”
Campanaro, unlike Hester, also brings an element to the Ravens offense, and he showed that with a 39-yard jet sweep later in the game.
“We saw something on film that we thought we could attack,” Campanaro said after the game. “I think last time I played a game I ran a jet sweep, so had it back in there and it worked out great.”
The was the longest play of Campanaro’s career, and an encouraging sign for a player who has been sidelined by injuries more often than not during his three-year NFL career.
Campanaro, who grew up in nearby Clarksville and played state championship games with River Hill at M&T Bank Stadium, has played in just nine of 46 games since the Ravens drafted him in the seventh round in 2014.
This fall, Campanaro was placed on injured reserve with a quad injury and then released with an injury settlement in September.
That left the door open to him returning to the team in the second half of the season, and the Ravens signed him to their practice squad last month. He was then elevated to the 53-man roster last week after Hester was released.
Campanaro played just six offensive snaps against the Eagles, but he could be something of an ‘X’ factor in the huge season-ending games at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. When healthy, the quick, shifty Campanaro (5-9, 191) has shown the ability to get open and make plays as a slot receiver.
“I think as the season goes on I could be out there a little more, and we’ll see how things go,” Campanaro said. “But I’m very comfortable with the offense. I know it very well.”
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