Kamar Aiken Goes From Journeyman To Potential Starter


Kamar Aiken's NFL merry-go-round has seemingly finally stopped.

Aiken was released six times in his first three NFL seasons. He bounced from the Buffalo Bills to the Chicago Bears to the New England Patriots before landing on the Ravens' practice squad midway through the 2013 season.

He sweated out his fate last summer, not knowing whether the roster bubble was about to pop in his face once again.

Now, Aiken's offseason looks very different. The 26-year-old wide receiver is running with the first-team offense and has been one of the stars of the team's Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

For the first time, Aiken can be somewhat more comfortable with greater surety that he'll make the team. Just don't make the mistake of mixing that up with complacency.

"It makes you a lot better," he said

"I feel like just training-wise, you're not thinking and you don't have that in the back of your head, 'I have to worry about this. I have to worry about that.' It's just more so, 'How can I better my craft?' So, I feel like that just gives you the edge to just go in and work on bettering your craft."

Aiken has shown himself to be quite the craftsman on the field during the three weeks of OTA practices.

He's not the biggest target at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. That honor goes to rookie Darren Waller or Marlon Brown. He's not the fastest, as that would be first-round rookie Breshad Perriman. He's not the most polished either, as that title may go to veteran Steve Smith Sr.

Aiken quite simply just gets the job done, and he does it in a variety of ways.

He stole the show last week during the Ravens' second OTA practice open to the media. Aiken hauled in a deep bomb, stretched for a fingertips grab over the middle, tiptoed the sideline and out leapt a defender for a score.

Aiken was a jack-of-all-trades last season too in a breakout campaign. He caught 24 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season. He scored a 19-yard touchdown against the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs.

With Torrey Smith in San Francisco and Jacoby Jones in San Diego, Aiken now has a chance to become a starting wide receiver. There's a lot of competition for the spot, but Aiken is competing on the first team and looks to have just as much a chance as any other.

Still, he's not getting ahead of himself. Asked what his personal expectations are for this season, he said, "getting where I fit in, to be honest."

"Whatever they need me to do, I'll just do my job – if that's special teams, if that's being a starter, if that's being the third receiver, second receiver," he said. "Whatever it is, I'm going to do my job the best I can."

Aiken said last year did build some inner confidence, but it's not a major change in personality.

"I was always confident," he said with a smile.

"I'm more comfortable for a couple reasons. No. 1, it's pretty much the same offense, so I didn't have to learn a whole new offense, and they just put me in the right spots to make me feel comfortable. Just being around the guys, being here and going through the program again, I'm settling in."

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