Lack of use ‘dis­ap­point­ing,’ Aiken says

Wide re­ceiver says he has to deal with change in role; Stan­ley de­ter­mined to play

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Ed­ward Lee ed­ward.lee@balt­ twit­­wardLeeSun

Last sea­son, wide re­ceiver Ka­mar Aiken led the Ravens in catches, re­ceiv­ing yards and touch­downs. His num­bers have de­clined sharply thus far in his fourth sea­son.

Through two games, Aiken has just two re­cep­tions for 14 yards. He has been tar­geted just three times by quar­ter­back Joe Flacco — trail­ing team­mates such as rookie wide re­ceiver Chris Moore, tight end Crock­ett Gill­more, full­back Kyle Juszczyk and run­ning back Ter­rance West (Tow­son Univer­sity, North­west­ern High) in that depart­ment.

Af­ter play­ing more than 82 per­cent of the of­fen­sive snaps in 2015, Aiken has been on the field for less than 47 per­cent of the unit’s plays this year.

On the flip side, he has 31 snaps on spe­cial teams, more than dou­bling last year’s to­tal of 14.

“It’s def­i­nitely dis­ap­point­ing, but I know what they’re us­ing me for,” Aiken said of his in­volve­ment on of­fense. “My role this year has changed. I’ve just got to ac­cept it for what it is and deal with it the best way I can.”

Aiken, 6 feet 2, 215 pounds, was the team’s best re­ceiver last fall, pro­vid­ing a wel­comed spark when Steve Smith Sr. missed the last nine games of the sea­son with an in­jury.

But Aiken is not the type to vent his frus­tra­tion pub­licly. Asked how he re­frains from air­ing any bit­ter­ness, he replied: “Fam­ily, prayer. God is the main thing, keep­ing him first. That’s help­ing me to get through it. Some days, it’s bad, and some days, it’s bet­ter. It’s just a nat­u­ral grind.”

Moore said Aiken has not shied away from his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a vet­eran, of­fer­ing coun­sel to young wide­outs.

“He’s still the same hard­work­ing guy,” said Moore, who has caught eight passes for 83 yards. “He goes out there ev­ery day for prac­tice and works hard. In any of­fense, there’s only one ball and so many re­ceivers. So any day he goes out there could be his day. You never know.”

No mat­ter what un­folds Sun­day at the Jack­sonville Jaguars, Aiken said his per­spec­tive won’t change af­ter what hap­pened in the first two games.

“I’m ap­proach­ing it the same way,” he said. “Just be ready to make my plays if the ball comes my way and do my job on spe­cial teams.” Wide re­ceiver Ka­mar Aiken played more than 82 per­cent of the Ravens’ of­fen­sive snaps in 2015 but has been in less than 47 per­cent of the unit’s plays so far this sea­son. Left tackle Ron­nie Stan­ley missed prac­tice Wed­nes­day but said he will play Sun­day. Stan­ley vows to play Sun­day: De­spite miss­ing Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice, rookie left tackle Ron­nie Stan­ley said he in­tends to play Sun­day.

“It’s go­ing to take a lot for me to miss a game,” the sixth over­all draft pick said in the locker room af­ter prac­tice. “I haven’t missed a game all my col­lege ca­reer. It’s go­ing to take a lot.”

Stan­ley, 6-6, 320 pounds, who was later de­scribed in a Ravens in­jury re­port as hav­ing a foot ail­ment, de­clined to spec­ify the rea­son for his ab­sence or whether he was in­jured dur­ing the 25-20 vic­tory at the Cleve­land Browns on Sun­day.

Asked whether his ab­sence was pre­cau­tion­ary, Stan­ley replied, “I would say so.”

In ad­di­tion to Stan­ley, rookie run­ning back Ken­neth Dixon did not prac­tice be­cause of the strained MCLin his left knee suf­fered in a pre­sea­son game against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 27.

Coach John Har­baugh said Dixon is mov­ing closer to re­turn­ing. “The only thing I can re­ally say — it’s go­ing to be too vague, prob­a­bly, for ev­ery­body to want to hear — but he’s work­ing hard, and he’s get­ting closer,” Har­baugh said. “It’s one of those in­juries. ... He seems to be on sched­ule.”

Elvis Dumervil prac­ticed on a lim­ited ba­sis.

The out­side line­backer sat out the team’s first two games of the sea­son be­cause of a set­back re­lated to off­sea­son foot surgery.

He had prac­ticed just once since be­ing ac­ti­vated from the phys­i­cally-un­able-top­er­form list Aug. 22, but his pres­ence could boost a strug­gling pass rush that has just five sacks in the first two games. Guard­cen­ter John Urschel (shoul­der) prac­ticed fully. Corner­back Jer­raud Pow­ers (an­kle), who was de­ac­ti­vated for the first two games, is no longer on the in­jury re­port.

Tonight’s staff picks

Guy sur­prised by AFC honor: Lawrence Guy was named the AFC Spe­cial Teams Player of the Week on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, but the Ravens de­fen­sive end said he was not in­formed of the award un­til af­ter prac­tice that af­ter­noon.

Guy was cho­sen af­ter he blocked Browns kicker Pa­trick Mur­ray’s ex­tra-point at­tempt in the first quar­ter that led to a 63-yard re­turn for a 2-point con­ver­sion by rookie corner­back Tavon Young.

The Ravens scored the next 23 con­sec­u­tive points for the win, and af­ter the game, Flacco cred­ited the blocked ex­tra-point at­tempt with spark­ing the come­back. Guy sounded happy to do his part. “It was a big play,” said Guy, a de­fen­sive starter who has blocked four kicks in his six-year NFL ca­reer.

“When you get plays like that, that change the mo­men­tum, it’s a pretty good feel­ing. It’s the same thing when we get an in­ter­cep­tion or a change of pos­ses­sion on some­thing. It gets the mo­men­tum of the team to go.” End zone: A dark-horse can­di­date in the pre­sea­son to win the AFC South, Jack­sonville has stum­bled to an 0-2 start af­ter an em­bar­rass­ing 38-14 loss at the Oak­land Raiders on Sun­day. Quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles did not hold back when de­scrib­ing the mood around the team. “I’m not sure if maybe we got a false sense of con­fi­dence in the pre­sea­son be­cause we had some suc­cess,” he said. “But I think re­al­ity hit, and it hit pretty quick and hard.What peo­ple say in the off­sea­son and tell you how you’re go­ing to be means noth­ing. You’ve still got to go play and be suc­cess­ful. So we’re go­ing through that, and we’re try­ing to fig­ure it out.”



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