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Gary Kubiak: Best Wide Receiver Battle I've Ever Seen


Gary Kubiak has been coaching in the NFL since 1994, a whopping 20 years.

But he's never seen as much depth at wide receiver as the Ravens have this year.

"In all my years in the league, I don't know that I've ever seen as competitive of a situation as we have at receiver right now," Kubiak said Friday.

"I would have no clue which five or six I would want right now, and that's a good thing as a coach."

The Ravens' top four are seemingly locked up: Steve Smith Sr., Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown.

Behind them, the Ravens will carry one or two more receivers on the 53-man roster. There are seven players vying for those spots. They've gotten a lot of reps recently, including with the first-team offense.

"You notice that John has been resting some players," Kubiak said. "He rested Steve, he pulled Torrey, he pulled Jacoby, and we keep doing good things. That's a great sign."

The players in competition are Kamar Aiken, LaQuan Williams, Mike Willie, Deonte Thompson, seventh-round pick Michael Campanaro and undrafted rookies Jeremy Butler and Jace Davis.

Aiken has been one of the most impressive lately. He was occasionally running with the first-team offense even before some veterans were rested. Aiken has shown strong and reliable hands, and is a big-bodied target at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds.

Williams continues to practice well, just as he has in previous seasons. He made the play of the day with a leaping catch for a touchdown Thursday. He excels when needed to elevate to make a snag above his head. He's also a proven special teams commodity.

Thompson is still maybe the fastest player on the team. That speed has been evident as Thompson has made some big plays off bootleg bombs. He ran under one deep one for a touchdown Friday.

All three of those players have had shots in the NFL before. There are three rookies pushing them to get their chance.

After missing some time due to a hamstring injury earlier this summer, Campanaro has come on strong during training camp and looks like the pesky slot receiver the Ravens envisioned when they traded back into the draft to select him. Campanaro plays bigger than his 5-foot-9, 185-pound frame and has a knack for getting open.

Davis has been consistently good. The Northern Colorado product is consistent catching the ball and has made some difficult plays. Injuries held him back in college, but he's putting it together in camp and has been a frequent target of quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Keith Wenning.

Butler created a lot of buzz throughout organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp, but is dealing with a slight groin injury. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Tennessee-Martin product has also shown good hands and uses his body well to make plays.

"This is going to be very competitive," Kubiak said. "How it plays out is going to be good for this football team. Special teams will be a big part of that."

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