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Michael Campanaro Has Successful Debut As Returner And In Offense


Michael Campanaro may have gotten the biggest ovation ever for a fair catch Sunday.

The Ravens wide receiver/returner took over punt return duties from veteran Devin Hester, who was waived last week after he had trouble fielding punts.

Campanaro only got one punt return opportunity, but he passed the test by not trying to do too much. He ranged far to his left to make a fair catch along the sideline despite windy conditions.

"He caught the one tough one there early," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "The crowd cheered; they were excited to see the punt caught. That was good. I thought he did a good job."

It was Campanaro's first punt return since Oct. 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh. Campanaro missed the rest of last season with a back injury and sat out most of this year because of a calf injury.

"The first one is always the toughest one, so it felt good just to be back there," Campanaro said. "The wind was a little tough to deal with, but we handled it and we didn't make any terrible plays."

Perhaps the most surprising development was that Campanaro was worked into the offense, and that could continue. Hester had not been featured on that side of the ball.

In the first quarter, Campanaro took a jet sweep handoff around the left edge and turned up field for a 39-yard gain. He got a good block on the edge from wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., and Campanaro's burst and elusiveness got him through a seam in the defense.

Campanaro said he had a good idea that he was going to get the ball versus the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We had some plays in there for me, but I knew that was a play," he said. "We saw something on film that we thought we could attack, so … I think last time I played a game I ran a jet sweep, so had it back in there and it worked out great."

The play Campanaro referred to was a 9-yard touchdown in Pittsburgh last season, which ended with a leap over a defender into the end zone. Campanaro could see more calls like that this Sunday against the Steelers.

Harbaugh said Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had "a couple other things schemed up" for Campanaro, who saw six offensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

Campanaro was not used as the kickoff returner, though it's a role he had before. Instead, the Ravens opted for rookie wide receiver Chris Moore, who had had an up-and-down day.

Moore had returns of 17, 18, 29 and 34 yards. He nearly broke away on the 34-yard return, but was stripped from behind and fumbled. Moore and the Ravens were fortunate that safety Marqueston Huff jumped on the loose ball.

"He had a big return, and he made a mistake," Harbaugh said. "It is probably what you talk about with a rookie. … I thought Marqueston Huff did a great job of tracking that thing and recovering that football; that was really big for us."

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