When it came to choosing where the next chapter of his NFL career would be, linebacker Daryl Smith put winning at the top of the list.
During his nine seasons in Jacksonville, Smith went to the playoffs twice. His Jaguars compiled a 67-77 overall record. Last year, he mostly sat on the bench and watched them tie for the worst record in the league at 2-14.
So when the Ravens called, Smith said it was an easy decision to sign with them over other interested teams.
"They're the champs," Smith said. "I know it's going to take so much more work to get back there, but I want to be a part of that. This team has been winning ever since I can remember."
Smith joined the Ravens for his first practice at minicamp Tuesday afternoon. With Jameel McClain (spinal cord) still rehabbing, Smith jumped in with the first-team defense alongside rookie Arthur Brown, who returned from his sports hernia surgery.
Afterwards, he was amazed by the high tempo of practice, but felt good to see that the team was working so hard. And Head Coach John Harbaugh was pleased with what he saw from the veteran.
"Daryl Smith looked good," Harbaugh said. "It's his first day. Obviously, he is packing a lot of learning into one practice here. But, he was calling the defenses. He was setting the defense, and he didn't seem to have any issues at all. [He] moves around well. [He] looked good."
Smith missed all but two games last season due to a recurring groin injury. He originally injured it during training camp, then suffered a setback when he tried to quickly come back.
Smith eventually had corrective surgery in late October, and was placed on the injured reserve list with the designation allowing him to return. Even though the Jaguars were 2-10, Smith fought back to play in their final two regular-season games.
"It was frustrating last year," Smith said. "I just continued to strengthen it this offseason, and do everything I needed to do. I feel good right now."
Smith has long been regarded as one of the NFL's most underrated players.
In 2010, Smith led the NFL in defeats, which is defined by a tackle, assist, pass defensed, interception, or forced fumble that causes either a turnover, loss of yardage or stops a conversion on third or fourth down. Smith had 35 while the Giants' Justin Tuck had 33, according to Football Outsiders.
In 2011, Smith received Pro Football Focus' second-highest grade among outside linebackers, only trailing Denver's Von Miller.
Smith, the Jaguars' all-time leading tackler, now joins a team that has long been known for its defensive stars. Ray Lewis retired with No. 52 on his back. Smith now wears No. 51.
Smith, who will challenge McClain and rookie Brown for a starting spot, says he isn't interested in gaining more limelight now that he's in Baltimore.
"That's something that doesn't cross my mind," he said. "If I go out and play ball and do what I'm supposed to do and we win, everything will take care of itself. My focus is to help wherever I can, make plays and win. That's it."