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Ravens rookie Michael Campanaro adjusting to press coverage

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When wide receiver Michael Campanaro was auditioning for the NFL draft, one of the persisting questions he faced from scouts was whether he was big and physical enough to escape from press coverage.

The rookie seventh-round draft pick has been getting plenty of practice during the Ravens' training camp working against that coverage technique against the cornerbacks. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound River Hill graduate has been adjusting on the fly, using his quickness and strength to get away from jams and gain separation downfield.

"They are playing a lot of press coverage, and we have really big corners," Campanaro said. "Jimmy Smith [6-2, 210 pounds] is huge. Chykie Brown has very long arms. I'm playing against some of the better press corners in the league, so it's been good for me to get a lot of practice against that.

Campanaro has proven in the past that he can make the transition to a higher level of football. A former high school running back who won two Maryland state championships, the Clarksville native caught a school-record 229 passes for 2,506 yards and 14 touchdowns at Wake Forest.

Although relatively diminutive in terms of height, Campanaro is known for his athleticism. He bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times at the NFL scouting combine where he also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds and registered a 39-inch vertical leap.

"Michael has great feet," Ravens wide receivers coach Bobby Engram said. "He has a lot of quickness. He understands how to separate. He’s a smaller guy, but he’s strong. He knows how to leverage himself to create separation, and that’s what you really look for from a slot receiver."

After a quiet start to training camp, Campanaro has been making more plays in recent days. He says he's been absorbing knowledge about the playbook, progressing to the point where he now feels a lot more comfortable with its nuances.

"I feel like I've got a much better grasp of the playbook, and I'm playing a lot faster now compared to minicamp," Campanaro said. "It's been going great. I'm just looking to get some more opportunities and be ready whenever my number is called. I'm getting everything down as far as how we run our offense and the tempo."

awilson@baltsun.com

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