Should Kamar Aiken Be Considered A 'Real' No. 1 Receiver?
There was no shortage of praise for wide receiver Kamar Aiken's career day in the 34-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, with many calling Aiken the bright spot in an otherwise difficult game.
But it seems some still feel the need to add a disclaimer when they compliment the third-year receiver. Case in point: check out these tweets after Aiken reeled in a stunning 48-yard Hail Mary catch amidst a sea of red before the half, saying he isn't a "real" No. 1 receiver.
The fact is that Aiken is the No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. That is real.
However, the thinking seems to be that it doesn't officially count because he got the job by default after Steve Smith Sr. was lost for the season in the Week 8 win over the San Diego Chargers. Plus, the Ravens lost first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman in training camp to a knee injury.
If we're looking at the stats, Aiken has put up top receiver numbers since he took over the role in Week 9. His 469 receiving yards since that time rank No. 15 among all NFL receivers. That means he's out-produced more than half of the NFL's other No. 1 options over the last seven games of the season. Pro Football Focus rates Aiken as the fifth-best receiver over the same span.
In those seven games, Aiken has caught at least five passes, which is one game shy of the longest such streak in team history (Derrick Mason, 2007).
With two games left, Aiken has an outside chance to notch a 1,000-yard season. He now has 802 receiving yards through 15 games.
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid agreed after yesterday's game, in which Aiken caught a career-high eight passes for a career-high 128 yards and a touchdown.
"That No. 11 [Aiken], by the way, is a heck of a player," Reid said. "I saw him after the game and told him that. Not just on that play, but just in general a good football player."
I can tell you that Aiken couldn't care less about media labels. The man is mentally tough after bouncing around four practice squads in his first three career years before catching on in Baltimore. With every roadblock placed in his path, he's remained confident in his own ability.
Aiken will become a restricted free agent this offseason, and regardless of what title he has going forward, CSNmidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown says Ravens brass need to ensure he sticks around.
"When the Ravens sit down to plan next year's roster, Aiken should be part of the mix," he wrote.
Jeremy Butler A Future 'Star'
Real quick before we move on from the wide receiver position …
According to Justin Forsett, another person to hold onto this offseason is Jeremy Butler, who will be an exclusive rights free agent in March.
After Butler had an impressive 41-yard catch and run, the injured Pro Bowl running back tweeted a ringing endorsement.
Until that day of stardom comes, ESPN's Jamison Hensley says Butler should at least get a promotion during the last two games of the season.
"He is starting to look like a better option as the No. 2 receiver than Chris Givens," Hensley wrote. "Butler, who began the season on the practice squad, averaged 20 yards on three catches."
Drooling Over Marcus Peters As He Does Ray Lewis Dance
Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters may have butchered Ray Lewis' dance Sunday afternoon, but Ravens fans still couldn't help drooling over the first-round rookie.
Peters continued the trend of players imitating the legend's iconic dance after he scored a touchdown on a 90-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the Chiefs' win at a time when the Ravens were threatening to come back.
It was one of two interceptions Peters had on the day (and fourth quarter), taking his season total up to seven. To put that number in perspective, the entire Ravens defense has just four picks this season.
"There was a chance that Peters would've played on Lewis' home turf on a regular basis," wrote Hensley. "The Ravens were eyeing Peters in the draft, but the Chiefs selected him at No. 18, which was eight spots ahead of Baltimore's pick [of Perriman]."
Head Coach John Harbaugh told media last week that he had several conversations with Peters leading into the draft.
As for Peters' dancing, he said his moves were meant as a tribute to Lewis and not as taunting the home crowd.
"Playing in Ray Lewis' house ... that's an honor and a salute to Ray Lewis," Peters said. "I knew if I got a pick, I was going to do it regardless. It just helps that it was a pick-six."
Please, No More Gold Pants
I've never seen so many football analysts turn into fashion experts.
The Ravens rolled out the gold pants and purple jersey combination Sunday, and the consensus is in: the pants are "ugly."
"[F]ans who have already suffered through an ugly season will have to suffer through three hours of watching the Ravens play in what might be ugliest jersey combination of all-time: Black helmet, purple jersey, gold pants," CBSSports.com's John Breech wrote.
National websites poked fun at the new look, wondering why the Ravens wore the gold pants in the first place. The gold is actually one of the Ravens' official colors, as can be seen in the birdie logo on the helmets.
Here's one of Breech's guesses.
"It's also possible that Ravens are wearing the pants as part of the NFL's Super Bowl 50 celebration," he wrote. "The league has encouraged teams to get as gold as possible – just look at the 50-yard line in each game – to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl."
Timmy Jernigan Must Play SmarterTimmy Jernigan said he wouldn't apologize for the late hit on Alex Smith because he couldn't be sure that Smith was headed out of bounds.
"[Jernigan is an] aggressive player, the way he comes about the game," teammate Elvis Dumervil said. "Things will happen."
Yes, part of Jernigan's upside is his aggressiveness. That said …
"Jernigan showed a lot of hustle on the play, but he has to play smarter," Hensley wrote.
Debate Over Buck Allen Benching
Harbaugh confirmed that running back Buck Allen didn't get any snaps after the first quarter because he fumbled the ball for the second consecutive week. The head coach added that Allen hasn't been "banished" and will be back.
There was a Twitter debate as to whether Allen, who is using this time to develop, should have been benched for three quarters.
John Eisenberg feels Harbaugh was right in sending a message to Allen.
"The Ravens are 4-10, in contention for a top-five draft pick, and now have a minus-15 turnover ratio. Coincidence? Hardly," Eisenberg wrote.
"That's why [Harbaugh] was right to bench rookie Buck Allen after he fumbled for the second straight week. The importance of NOT giving the ball away must be emphasized."
Does It Matter Who Starts At QB?
After Jimmy Clausen threw two interceptions Sunday, some folks said it was time to move on to .
Clausen had the edge over Matt Schaub in some media members' minds because he wasn't making mistakes like Schaub that led to opposing defensive points. That edge faded when Clausen threw a pick-six, too. So why not give Mallett a go at it?
If you ask Brown who he thinks should start the final two games, he doesn't have a preference.
"Does it really matter?" he asked. "Right now, the main goal is to finish the final two games with no more injuries."
Jimmy Smith Done For Season?
The Ravens already have a league-high 18 players on injured reserve. Could cornerback Jimmy Smith be added to that list?
Smith suffered a thigh injury on the first series and never returned, and Harbaugh didn't have an update after the game.
"[I]t appeared Smith may have pulled a hamstring chasing Charcandrick West on his 38-yard touchdown run," wrote Brown. "If that's the case, Smith may not play again until next season."