Time to Move on From Campanaro
In case you were living under a rock, this happened yesterday…
Per sources, #Ravens had free agent kick returner Devin Hester in for workout.
— Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) September 2, 2016
From all outward appearances, this was a run-of-the-mill vet tryout, and the first Hester has received since being medically cleared (then immediately released by the Falcons) after last season’s lingering turf toe injury. And while this could just be an effort to strike the fear of God (the Football Gods, specifically the God of Roster Cuts) into 2014 7th rounder Michael Campanaro, I believe this should be so much more.
The Ravens need to move on from Camp, and sign Hester.
Not what people want to hear, but try to think with your head instead of your heart, and just hear me out… because I’m right.
Yes, I understand Campanaro is a young, local product from Silver Spring, MD (which technically makes him Skins property, not Ravens), but the oft injured Wide Receiver and Return Specialist is down to his final shot this season, and in no way has he earned that roster spot.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at Camp’s first 2 seasons in the NFL as a receiver:
-8 Regular Season games played (25% of a possible 32 game slate)
-12 receptions, 137 yards, 1 TD (averaged 1.5 rpg, 17 ypg)
-2 carries, 17 yards, 1 TD (not worth averaging)
Simply screams ‘meh.’
He’s a blip on the radar. A fringe guy. A minor offshoot in an otherwise productive offense where he’d be the 7th receiver (even further down the depth if you include tight ends and backs) and see about as much action as Nick Boyle in weeks 1 through 10. He’s had less receiving yards than Bernard Pierce had in his Baltimore career, and as many touchdowns as Yamon Figurs had with the Ravens, but hey- at least Figurs showed some promise in the return game!
Campanaro on the other hand… not so hot. Last season as the return specialist, he fair caught 3 punts, returned 3 more with an average just a shade over 16 yards, and also returned 3 kickoffs with an average of 26 yards (from the catch, not the goal line).
Not terrible numbers, but nothing special, and with his injury issues, how much trust is there that he’ll see a full 16 game slate?
Take that lack of receiving prowess, the injury-laden history, the inexperience at the NFL level returning kicks, and throw in the 4th preseason game where Camp botched a kick, then fumbled immediately after… the only reason he’d make this team is because there’s no other options as a return specialist (Reynolds tried, but he was a far cry from a natural fit).
But there is another option.
And he was here for a workout yesterday. And it’s Devin Hester if you haven’t figured that out already…
Try to keep up, okay?
Despite the explosive return guru’s history of awesomeness, Hester still has 2 things working against him: Age and his injury.
How big are these issues though?
If Hester has been medically cleared already, and he’s willing to sign an injury waiver (how’s unemployment treating you Jake Long?), there should be no concern for the Ravens.
As for his age, sure Hester is a little long in the tooth for an NFL player (33 years young), but look around this roster. There is plenty of young talent infused with experienced vets like Sizzle (33), Steve Smith, Sr. (37), Eric Weddle (31), among others. Is 33 really too old to join the team? Hell, Jacoby Jones was returning kicks at 30 in his final year with the Ravens!
Of course, others may knock on Hester being a one-trick pony, as his attempts to become a piece in the pass game, as well as the a cog in the secondary, both failed… but isn’t that all that Campanaro really became for the Ravens? Sure, he participated on offense, but his contributions were so minimal, they typically go unnoticed. Adding Hester wouldn’t change much of anything for Elite Joe’s aerial attack at all.
As for the return game… the Ravens need to think long and hard about this: do they want a young guy who has a chance to be good, but can’t seem to stay away from the trainer’s table long enough to prove himself? Or do they want a proven commodity in Hester, who holds the NFL record of 19 punt returns for a touchdown, and is the current leader among active players in return attempts and total return yards?
If the Ravens really, truly want to get out of this funk and over the hump?
Hester all day.
But if they want to stick with the 7th rounder out of Wake Forest who might have promise?
I suppose Campanaro will do…