Aiken holds chance to reach rare company on Sunday

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A forgettable 2015 season for the Ravens has been anything but that for wide receiver Kamar Aiken.
In a starting offense that’s lost six Week 1 starters and first-round receiver Breshad Perriman to season-ending injuries, Aiken has quietly produced one of the better receiving seasons in franchise history. And with 132 receiving yards in Sunday’s season finale against Cincinnati, the 26-year-old Aiken would produce the 12th 1,000-yard receiving season in the 20-year history of the franchise.
Only six Ravens players — Derrick Mason (four times), Qadry Ismail (twice), Derrick Alexander (twice), Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, and Michael Jackson — have earned the achievement in an underwhelming history for the Ravens at the receiver position. Even if Aiken became the last man standing to which quarterbacks could confidently throw — four different signal-callers have started over the last six games — he’s firmly established himself as a legitimate possession receiver with 51 receptions for 597 yards and three touchdowns over his last eight games.
After being held without a catch — the only time all season — against the Bengals in Week 3, the 6-foot-2 receiver would like nothing more than to have the career-best performance needed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.
“It’d be big just to get it because you never know when you’re going to get another chance to get that close,” Aiken said. “Tomorrow’s not promised; that next down isn’t promised, so it’d be big from that standpoint. I’m going to do everything I can to possibly get it if I can, and that’s all I can do about it.”
In a season lacking continuity on the offensive side of the ball due to injuries, Aiken can set a franchise record if he can make five catches on Sunday, which would give him nine consecutive games reaching that plateau. He’s currently tied with Mason, who caught at least five passes in eight straight contests in 2007.
With the Ravens lacking another established receiver down the stretch, Aiken has likely seen more targets than he would have in a more prolific offense, but he’s caught 61.4 percent of his 114 targets, which isn’t far behind Steve Smith’s 63 percent before his Achilles injury on Nov. 1. Unlike his veteran teammate, however, Aiken has had to adapt to playing with Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen, and Ryan Mallett after starting quarterback Joe Flacco was lost for the season in late November.
Head coach John Harbaugh has also praised his toughness and durability as many liken Aiken’s qualities and skill set to those of Anquan Boldin, who never had more than 921 receiving yards in any of his three seasons with Baltimore.
“He has been hit in the head more times probably than any receiver in the league, and it hasn’t been called,” Harbaugh said. ” He doesn’t get protected. He bounces back up and he’s back out there, and he shows up the next week. It’s just impressive what he has done this year, and I’m proud of him.”
In the most frustrating season in franchise history, Harbaugh and the Ravens can certainly appreciate the example and production that Aiken has offered.

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