With all the injuries for the Baltimore Ravens at wide receiver, there is only one man left standing at the postion from the opening day roster. Kamar Aiken, an undrafted 5th year player out of the University of Central Florida in only his second season getting playing time in the NFL, has broken out and been a reliable presence for this battered Ravens team. Aiken's consistency has him on the cusp of a new Ravens record:
Surprisingly, none of the Ravens top receivers over the years, which included Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith Sr, Torrey Smith, Michael Jackson, or Derrick Alexander were able to accomplish this feat. But if he can pull in five catches in week 17 against the Bengals, Aiken will own the Ravens record, despite this being his first season with over 35 targets. He has been able to accomplish this while going up against opponent's top cornerbacks week after week, as the Ravens only reliable receiving weapon.
Aiken also has another big number in his sights:
I told Ravens WR Kamar Aiken that he needs 132 receiving yards to get 1,000 for the season. His response? "I know. I'm going after it."— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) December 31, 2015
Another big number for Kamar to hit is 1000 yards, which is infinitely more impressive when you consider Steve Smith only went on IR on November 4th, after appearing in the 7 of the Ravens first 8 games of the season, although he did leave two of those matchups early due to injury. Aiken at that halfway point had just 333 yards on the season, as Smith was the offensive focal point until then. However, since the injury Aiken has averaged 76.4 ypg, a pace that would have him at 1222 yards for a full season. He has also caught 62.5% of his targets, a number on par with Steve Smith and former Raven Anquan Boldin, both considered very reliable targets.
Aiken is a restricted free agent this season, and he definitely has shown he is due a hefty raise. Complicating things for the Ravens and Aiken is the return of Steve Smith. Although he is a 36 year old coming off an ACL injury and they should not expect to rely on him as much as in the past, Aiken has thrived when playing a similar role in the offense to the one that Smith plays. It will be on the Ravens and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman to balance their roles, possibly using Smith more in the slot.
Either way, Kamar Aiken has been a key factor for the Ravens this season, and hopefully he can put both of these accomplishments in the Ravens record books for the 2015 season. He deserves the accolades.