Healthy and able to play "free" without worrying about any nagging injuries, Michael Campanaro made an early statement in the Ravens' wide receiver competition last night.
Campanaro, the second-year pass catcher, made the play of the night with a 45-yard touchdown reception from Matt Schaub late in the first quarter of the Ravens' 30-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
"It was a great play we had lined up, had kind of a diagonal route," said Campanaro, the Clarksville native and former River Hill standout. "Matt had a lot of time back there. We need time for plays like that to work out. I saw a safety jump up, so I kind of just slipped him, and Matt stayed with me. I was able to make a play. It's nice, I've been waiting to score one here. Hopefully, during the regular season, I can get one. It will mean more."
Campanaro got behind the Saints' secondary and broke a tackle before bouncing in the end zone.
"That was really a great route by Mike," Schaub said. "It cleared out beautifully and I was able to catch him in stride, and he made the rest happen."
On a night where none of the other competitors for the reserve wide receiver roles really distinguished themselves, Campanaro took a step toward solidifying his status on the 53-man roster with his two-catch-for-58-yard performance. The Ravens will likely carry six or seven receivers and Campanaro slots in behind Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, rookie first-round pick Breshad Perriman and Marlon Brown.
Jeremy Butler (one catch for 14 yards versus Saints), Darren Waller (one catch for 12 yards), DeAndre Carter (two catches for 33 yards) and Aldrick Robinson (no catches) are also in the mix.
"It's definitely always big making plays when the bullets are flying. It goes a long way," said Campanaro. "I think the biggest thing for all the receivers is just staying consistent, day-in and day-out, coming out to practice and making plays and showing the coaching staff what you've got. Anytime you make plays like these in preseason games, it definitely goes a long way."
The biggest thing for Campanaro is proving to the organization that he can stay healthy. A seventh-round pick last year out of Wake Forest, Campanaro was limited to four games in the regular season of his rookie year. He caught seven balls for 102 yards and a touchdown despite dealing much of the year with a hamstring injury.
When Campanaro sustained a quadriceps injury that kept him out of most of the offseason workouts, it appeared to be another setback for a player who dealt with some injuries in college, too. But the 24-year-old has been able to stay on the field thus far in training camp.
"It feels great just being healthy, out there playing," he said. "I feel great in practice, and to come out here and play in a game, it feels good. I'm not even thinking about it – just out there playing free."