Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Campanaro was back at practice after missing some time nursing an injury. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) returned to practice Monday to participate in individual drills after missing more than two weeks with an unspecified soft tissue injury and joins a wide receiver competition that, thanks in part to several injuries, hasn't yielded results in the preseason.
"It's tough getting nicked up a little bit, but it feels good just to be healthy and be out here," said Campanaro, a 2014 seventh-round NFL draft pick. "It wasn't anything too serious. It's just exciting to be back out practicing with the guys and looking forward to a good season."
Campanaro wouldn't specify what the injury was, but said it was "definitely different" than his previous injuries, which would rule out a slightly torn quadriceps suffered during organized team activities in June and the hamstring pulls that limited him to just four games in 2014.
A focus on opening the muscles in his lower half to prevent those pulls and tears was said to have reduced the risk of such injuries, but Campanaro said he's been "putting in a lot of good work and I know the staff knows that, as far as my body.
"Moving forward, I feel like that's the most important thing," Campanaro said.
When healthy, Campanaro is the type of underneath receiver quarterback Joe Flacco can't have enough of. He caught seven passes for 102 yards and a touchdown as a rookie, and added a score in the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. He had been having an impressive training camp and preseason before the injury occurred on Aug. 20 during the team's joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He says he's making up for lost time, and "we'll see about the game, how it plays out."
His return not only puts him back into the kick and punt return competition, which Asa Jackson currently leads by default, but into the battle for repetitions at wide receiver. Kamar Aiken has emerged as the No. 2 behind Steve Smith Sr. with rookie top pick Breshad Perriman (sprained knee) out for over a month.
Campanaro worked his way into a No. 3 role with his work early in training camp, but with him out of action for the middle two preseason games, Marlon Brown was the first wide receiver off the bench.
Those five receivers are the ones, even with injuries, best positioned to enter the season as Flacco's top targets. Others in the mix include rookie Darren Waller, Jeremy Butler, Tom Nelson, and Daniel Brown.
Coach John Harbaugh said it was still sorting itself out.
"I think it's going to continue to do that in terms of who steps up and makes plays, even this week and on into the regular season," Harbaugh said. "That will kind of sort itself out. Those guys are going to have an opportunity to really shine and show what they can do, and we'll be looking forward to seeing how it goes. They all have talent and ability, and they all can do it. I'm excited about those guys."