"I don't feel like I had the opportunities," Aiken said after signing with Indy this week, via ESPN. "I had opportunities when injuries came up and things like that, but it wasn't a true opportunity to say let's help me build off what I did or to get me involved a lot in the offense. It was more, 'We're going to put him in a special-teams role and we'll see where he fits in in the offense.' That's how I felt when I was there."
After going undrafted in 2011, the 6-foot-2 wideout bounced around before landing in Baltimore the past three seasons.
When the Ravens suffered injuries to Breshad Perriman and Steve Smith in 2015, Aiken was thrust into a larger role. He went on to lead the team with 944 yards on 75 receptions and also had five TDs. Last season, however, the 27-year-old became lost in the shuffle in Baltimore, earning just 29 catches for 328 yards and a score.
"It was definitely frustrating because I felt like I did enough to at least have the opportunity to build off of what I did the year before," Aiken said of his performance in 2016. "But I really didn't have that. My role was dropped back on the depth chart and then basically special teams. There was nothing that I was doing to say, 'Well, he's not doing this well. He's not doing that well.' That's just what it was."
"I just feel like this opportunity is a little different than the other ones I've had," Aiken said. "Like when I came into Baltimore, I came in as a practice squad guy so I kind of earned my ranks to get to be able to be active and get plays my way. Now, I am coming into a situation where I have kind of proved myself, not to the tier where I know I can be, but I've proven myself enough to where I can come in and compete for a job."
New general manager Chris Ballard only promised Aiken an opportunity to compete for snaps in a thin receiver corps. Now it's Aiken's job to prove he should have gotten a better chance to do so in Baltimore.