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Why Michael Campanaro Believes He's Ready for a Breakout Year


Michael Campanaro hears the chatter about the Ravens' supposed lack of wide receivers. He's seen the tweets directed right at him.

"You see the articles and stuff. It's more motivation than anything. You've got to have confidence in yourself to go out and prove them wrong," Campanaro said.

"We have guys, including myself, who are going to show up big."

Behind Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, the Ravens have question marks.

Second-year wideout Chris Moore caught seven passes last year. The biggest game of Chris Matthews' career was more than two years ago in Super Bowl XLIX, and he spent last season on injured reserve. There are others with little to no experience.

Then there's Campanaro, who has flashed his playmaking potential, but has been unable to show it consistently because of a litany of injuries.

The local River Hill High School product and 2014 seventh-round pick has been with the Ravens the longest of any wide receiver in the room, yet he's played in just 11 games and made 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.

But not every wide receiver (in fact, few) explodes onto the NFL scene with immediate success. For some, it takes longer. For others, it never happens.

Campanaro is banking on being a late bloomer. He re-signed with the Ravens on a one-year deal in early April. He likely has one last chance to prove himself to not only stay in the NFL, but flourish.

"My first three years, I've been through a lot. I've learned a ton about the NFL, about myself," Campanaro said.

"It hasn't been an easy road for me, but everything I've done has prepared me for this year. I've put in the work, and I'm definitely looking to break out this year."

Campanaro's rookie year was limited to just four games because of a thigh injury. His second season was cut short again after just four games because of a back injury suffered in Pittsburgh.

He strained his calf at about this time a year ago, forcing him out of Organized Team Activities and minicamp. After re-aggravating it in training camp, he was cut with an injury settlement.

The Ravens brought Campanaro back on the practice squad before calling him up to the active roster in December. As always, whenever he got the ball in his hands, Campanaro was a weapon. Though he didn't catch a pass in three games, he ran three jet sweeps for 72 yards.

Perhaps the most important development last season was that Campanaro strung together seven healthy weeks to cap the year, which gave him a boost going into this offseason. He feels he showed he's turned a corner.

"It's my first offseason I went into healthy, so I've been able to build on it," Campanaro said. "I've just been crushing workouts."

So what's going to keep Campanaro on the field this time?

Campanaro doesn't have some magic elixir, and isn't doing all that much different. He's been training with his brother and going to a physical therapy clinic throughout the offseason, working on his soft tissue* *and strengthening different areas of his body. He said he feels "really good."

His offseason workouts mirrored those that new Ravens Director of Performance Steve Saunders has instituted in Baltimore, which explains why Campanaro has been one of the most impressive veterans in workouts since returning.

"I've gotten into a routine now taking care of my body. I really feel like I have a good grasp on it," Campanaro said. "I'm not even thinking about it. I've dealt with it in the past, but I'm focused on big things this year."

With the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. and departure of Kamar Aiken (Indianapolis) in free agency, Campanaro will get his chance. The Ravens need a slot receiver with Wallace and Perriman penciled in outside, and that's exactly what Campanaro does best.

Campanaro said he's had conversations about his role with coaches, including Head Coach John Harbaugh, who has been pulling for Campanaro to get beyond his injuries for a while.

"That's definitely my strength [in the slot]. That's the kind of player I am," the 5-foot-9, 191-pound Campanaro said, adding that he wants to contribute as a special teams returner as well.

"I'm just anxious for OTAs, training camp and the preseason, and going out there and balling."

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