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Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken delivers strong performance with several acrobatic catches

Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken runs up field after a catch during practice on Aug. 1, 2015, at training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken runs up field after a catch during practice on Aug. 1, 2015, at training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken made a sound adjustment to the football Saturday afternoon, twisting his body underneath coverage to position himself for a difficult catch in traffic over the middle.

Aiken later duplicated that feat during the Ravens' first day of contact drills of training camp.

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Competing for a starting job with rookie first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman and Marlon Brown, Aiken reinforced why the coaching staff is confident in his ability to handle a pivotal role in the offense.

"He had a strong day," Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said. "He made an adjusted catch in tough coverage. Then, we had to run it again and he made the same catch. We all saw the same things, right?"

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Aiken emerged last season as a valuable reserve wide receiver and special-teams contributor and has continued to put distance between his new status and his old journeyman days in which he became a fixture on the NFL waiver wire as he was cut six times during his first three seasons.

Aiken hadn't caught a pass in an NFL regular-season game prior to last year when he finished with 24 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns.

During the final five games, Aiken's burgeoning chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco was obvious as he caught 11 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. That included six receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins, the Florida native's hometown team.

Now, Aiken is regularly making acrobatic catches after previously being with the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears and  New England Patriots. Aiken ranked fourth on the team in receiving yards last season despite only being targeted 32 times. The former undrafted free agent from Central Florida caught 121 passes for 1,924 yards and 17 touchdowns in college.

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"I just want to be a little more fluent route runner," said Aiken, who's playing this year under a $585,000 exclusive-rights tender. "I want to be a little bit quicker. I feel like I'm explosive now, but I want to get that quickness.

"I didn't really establish myself as a deep-ball route runner last season. I did that my whole college career. I want to be known more for that than intermediate routes."

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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