Lack of use ‘disappointing,’ Aiken says
Wide receiver says he has to deal with change in role; Stanley determined to play
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.”