Last season, wide receiver Kamar Aiken led the Ravens in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns. His numbers have declined sharply thus far in his fourth season.
Through two games, Aiken has registered just two receptions for 14 yards. He has been targeted just three times by quarterback Joe Flacco -- trailing teammates such as rookie wide receiver Chris Moore and tight end Crockett Gillmore (four each), and fullback Kyle Juszczyk and running back Terrance West (five each) in that department.
After playing more than 82 percent of the offensive snaps in 2015, Aiken has been on the field for less than 47 percent of the unit’s plays so far. On the flip side, he has recorded 31 snaps on special teams, more than doubling last year’s total of 14.
“It’s definitely disappointing, but I know what they’re using me for,” Aiken said of his involvement on offense. “My role this year has changed. I’ve just got to accept it for what it is and deal with it the best way I can.”
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Aiken was the team’s best receiver last fall, providing a welcomed spark after Steve Smith Sr. missed the last nine games of the season to injury.
But Aiken is not the type to vent his frustration publicly. Asked how he refrains from airing any bitterness, he replied, “Family, prayer. God is the main thing, keeping him first. That’s helping me to get through it. Some days, it’s bad, and some days, it’s better. It’s just a natural grind.”
Moore said Aiken has not shied away from his responsibilities as a veteran, offering counsel to young wideouts.
“He’s still the same hard-working guy,” said Moore, who has caught eight passes for 83 yards. “He goes out there every day for practice and works hard. In any offense, there’s only one ball and so many receivers. So any day he goes out there could be his day. You never know.”
No matter what unfolds Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Aiken said his perspective won’t change after what happened in the first two games.
“I’m approaching it the same way,” he said. “Just be ready to make my plays if the ball comes my way and do my job on special teams.”