Three weeks into Ravens training camp, the fierce competition at wide receiver apparently is no closer to being decided, and coach John Harbaugh said on Thursday that performance in the final three preseason games could make the difference for the half-dozen or so receivers on the roster bubble.
Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown figure to be locks to make the team.
If the Ravens keep six receivers on the 53-man roster –- which has usually been the case, although last season they originally kept seven -– that leaves Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Butler, Michael Campanaro, Jace Davis, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams and Mike Willie all fighting for two or at most three spots on the team.
“Nobody has really separated themselves because nobody has fallen off right now – they’ve all played well,” Harbaugh said on Thursday.
“The games are going to be a big thing now,” he added. “If practice doesn’t separate guys, then maybe the games will.”
The Ravens play at Dallas Saturday night and then return home to face the Redskins next Saturday.
Aiken has perhaps been the biggest surprise. Aiken, who has bounced around practice squads of four teams over the past three years, has been climbing up the depth chart with consistent play-making over the past couple of weeks. He led the Ravens receivers with four catches for 46 yards in the preseason opener against San Francisco last week.
Campanaro also has come on strong of late, but if what Harbaugh said is true, Campanaro has to hope for more game action than he saw last week. He was one of the last receivers to see the field against the 49ers, and no passes came his way. Campanaro, though, is likely to get work as a return specialist as well, which helps his value.
Williams, the Baltimore native, also has made special teams his forte, and that would likely be his ticket onto the roster.
But for Williams, and all the others on the bubble, Saturday night’s game in Dallas is the next big test. When their number is called, they must deliver. Their job could depend on it.