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Michael Campanaro leaves 2015 knowing he's entering a 'make-or-break' year

Michael Campanaro leaves 2015 knowing he's entering a 'make-or-break' year
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Campanaro (15) rides a cart from the field after being injured in an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh. (Don Wright / Associated Press)

After losing all but four games of his second season with the Ravens because of a back injury, wide receiver Michael Campanaro knows he's entering the most important offseason of his young career.

"It's really big," Campanaro said. "I'm looking at it for myself like a make-or-break year, my first two years being injured. But my teammates still believe in me and my coaches do as well. I'm looking to have a big offseason coming in for a big year."

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The River Hill graduate was finding his biggest role in the Ravens' offense to date in the first quarter of the season before going on injured reserve. He scored a rushing touchdown on a jet sweep in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and had a pair of catches as well, but suffered a back injury late in that game.

With Steve Smith Sr. also injuring his back that week and rookie Breshad Perriman also on the roster but not playing due to a knee injury, Campanaro wasn't afforded the time to heal and return. He was placed on injured reserve and was out for the season.

A year ago, he lost all but four games of his rookie season because of a hamstring injury. In eight games over two seasons, the 2014 seventh-round draft pick has 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown, along with one rushing touchdown.

"It's extremely frustrating, second year in a row not being able to play, being injured and being put on IR," he said. "Playing is what I love to do, and I want to show my talents and show what I can do. It's frustrating, but it's a new season now. I'm going to be ready to go."

While he was out, Kamar Aiken emerged as a reliable receiver in Smith's stead, and Jeremy Butler caught 36 passes for 371 yards in just eight games as he climbed to the No. 2 receiver role. Add in Smith's return and Perriman's return, plus the likes of Chris Matthews, Marlon Brown, and Daniel Brown, and Campanaro will return to another crowded receiver room.

He knows the only way to separate himself is to stay healthy.

"That's going to be my goal this offseason, just preparing my body to take anything," he said. "That's the biggest thing for me. I feel like if I can stay healthy, I can really make a big impact."

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