Well, through seven-and-a-half games, Smith posted 46 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns. He was on pace to finish in the NFL’s top 10 in catches and receiving yards.
Now pundits are questioning whether Smith will be able to be as good next season, when he’s 37 years old and returning from Achilles surgery.
And to that, Smith had one of his classic roasts.
“To be honest, you guys don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, so it doesn’t matter,” he said. “The numbers I put up will be the numbers I put up, and I’ll happen to put up those numbers at the age of 37.”
Smith knows he isn’t the same player he was 15 years ago, but who is?
“Can I run like I used to at 22? No,” he said. “But I’m comfortable being 37 years old, being on this team, and they’re comfortable with me.
“When I started to put up good numbers, you guys told me, ‘Well, he’ll tail off.’ What you need to do is just let me play and quit commenting about my play, because every time you all tell me something I can’t do, then you have a reason for why I’m doing it. … Just let me play. Quit asking me what I’m going to put up. I’m going to put up the numbers I put up and contribute the way I contribute at age 37.”
The surgeons certainly didn’t remove any of Smith’s trademark fire.
In his first interview with the Baltimore media since announcing his comeback last week, Smith said conversations with his wife about not retiring began the night before the Ravens’ Week 2 game in Oakland, on Sept. 20.
So while many have said the injury is what sent Smith back – and perhaps it still did factor in – he had a desire to keep playing before then.
“We talked about it off and on from [Week 2],” Smith said. “Obviously, when I got hurt, [we] sat down and decided, ‘What do you want to do?’ After I sobered up from the operation and dealing with all that, we talked about it and had a feel of what I wanted to do.”
Smith said it wasn’t a financial decision, as he’s heard from some in the media.
“People say that my financial planner told me I should come back. I’m straight. It’s not any concern,” he said with a laugh.
“I do have a desire to play and also have an organization that wants me to play and is encouraging me to keep playing, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m under contract for one more year, so it’s not like we’re making huge moves. I’m under contract.”
Smith said he still had to rehab his Achilles no matter what just to be able to enjoy life playing with his kids. So if he’s going through that and still wants to play, why not?
“I think rehabbing and playing is a lot better than rehabbing just to rehab,” he said.
Still, Smith said he’s taking things slow with his recovery. Since the injury on Nov. 1, he’s been “hanging out” and checking in with the Ravens’ other wide receivers from time to time to offer any tips or encouragement.
Smith just got out of his walking boot Monday, after eight weeks. He said he has four more weeks of taking it slow before the 12-week mark when he can start to do more.
Once he gets back home to Charlotte, N.C., he’ll talk with his doctor and get a plan for when he can start running and doing work in the pool.
“Despite reports that I’m doing hydrotherapy, I’m the driest hydrotherapy recipient ever,” Smith joked.
“I won’t be ahead of schedule. If anything, to be safe, I’ll be behind schedule. With an injury like this, you don’t want to be ahead of schedule. That takes away a lot of stuff.”