Local product Michael Campanaro has faced his share of injuries throughout his NFL career, which have kept him from having an impact as a receiver and return man for the Baltimore Ravens.
"It’s been frustrating, but I’m out here playing every day now," Campanaro said after practice on Tuesday, August 15, 2017. "I just look at it as the past few years, they’ve prepared me for this moment I have now and this opportunity that I have. I’m just taking it one day at a time and looking for a big year."
Now entering his fourth season, Campanaro is healthy once again and has his sights set on a contributing role in Baltimore.
"It feels great – just overcoming another injury, [to] be out here every day practicing and competing, competing well— feels great," Campanaro said. "I love being out there every day playing."
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has always been a big advocate for scrappy players who will do anything to have an impact. He has a fondness for guys that are simply football players. It's one of the reasons he likes Campanaro so much.
“Michael has done a good job. You guys have seen it; he has looked good out there. And of course, he stayed healthy," Harbaugh said at his Tuesday press conference. "We will knock on wood, and fully expect him to continue to have a really good camp. He is in a fight. He is in a fight with some other good players at wide receiver, and we like that as coaches. We like to see our guys in competition and see who rises to the top."
Campanaro has shown flashes of the playmaking ability that led to him being the all-time receptions leader at Wake Forrest. He is a dangerous receiver, especially in the slot.
His 2016 season ended abruptly when he was placed on injured reserve in October. The Ravens plan to get Campanaro more involved in the offense this season.
"Last year, coming back was great, getting in the mix, trying to bring a spark to the offense," Campanaro explained. "This year, I’m just out there more in three-wide receiver sets. I think I have a lot to offer when it comes to that— and just being out there on offense, making plays in the passing game and running game, everything. [I’m] hoping I can bring a different dynamic to our offense."
One of the other ways that Campanaro can cement a contributing role is on special teams. It goes back to the willingness to do anything for a roster spot that Harbaugh admires in Campanaro.
Harbaugh is a stickler for ball security. Fumbling the football or muffing a punt is an easy way for a player to find himself in Harbaugh's bad books.
As a punt returner, Campanaro is a player that can be trusted to secure the football. He'll get his chance to further drive that point home during the preseason.
"I think coach Jerry [Rosburg, special teams coordinator/associate head coach] knows he can trust me back there— just fielding the ball and making plays. I definitely think we have a lot of returners on the roster, so I think he wants to see them get some live game reps," Campanaro said. "I’ll definitely get my fair share in the upcoming weeks of these preseason games. I just want to be good back there, being sound back there, making the right decisions and reading the returns, and make a big play."