*BR.com wants to use the Hey Rookie! blog as a way to let every rookie on the roster tell a little bit about their story. We'll have different voices each week. First up is wide receiver Marcus Smith, a fourth-round draft pick out of New Mexico. *
So, here is the first rookie blog of the offseason. This is Marcus Smith checking in. It's been a great few weeks of camp for me. I definitely feel that being out here the last month in a half helped evolve my game. I think that I've gotten to be a better player, become more familiar with my teammates and familiar with what was expected of me. That, more than anything, was what was making my head spin - not knowing what the coaches want. Now, I've figured out flat-out that they want *this *done *this *way. It definitely takes some of the weight off your shoulders, because you don't have to change that month-to-month, week-to-week.
Cam has been great for my development. That goes from me to "Mase" [Derrick Mason], Troy [Smith] and Kyle [Boller]. No matter who's in there, if Cam sees you mess up, he's going to hold you to that standard. It doesn't change daily. It stays exactly the same. He says, "Play like a Raven," and if you don't run to the ball, he's going to point it out. We've all been in class watching film, and he'll point something out in front of everybody, like "Is that the way a Raven plays?" It's a yes or no question, and he expects an answer. He wants you to take it personal, because once that happens, it means you'll take it personal on the field.
I'm looking forward to rookie camp next week. There really is no added pressure. The expectation level is still the same. We're still expected to do the things we can do best, whether that's me being more physical, or having a more focused mindset. I think the coaches are looking forward to having us lead the line and taking the majority of the reps. They can really get a sense of what we can do next week. Without Mase and Mark Clayton and Demetrius [Williams] here, I'm looking to take more of a leadership role, as well. I was a captain last year at New Mexico, so I'm comfortable with pushing other guys. If they tell me something, I'll listen to them at the same time. We're all on an equal plane, trying to grow as a group and win football games.
I've made the transition to Baltimore, finally. It's been a lot more laid back than I thought it was. I'm from California, and out there, people are go, go, go. It's high-paced. The speed limit out here is 40 miles an hour. I wasn't used to that. I like things out here. The weather is a little humid at this point, but I heard that it's even more humid during training camp. I also went to New Mexico, but that's a dry heat. I'm enjoying the city. I don't plan on going back to the West Coast for a bit. I have an uncle in the Atlanta area, so that's basically my home.
[Ed. note: Smith's mother recently passed away as a sudden brain aneurysm.]
But I don't have much family that is close to here. Since the day my mother passed, football has been my outlet. It's been the one thing I can concentrate on if I'm feeling down. I can hit bag harder than I did before. I've never been the type of person to come out and make my feelings known. I know that sometimes that can be a detriment, especially if you can't get something off your mind. Coach [Jim] Hostler has been great about opening his door. You can't let things get to you to the point where you can't focus on the field, and there are no excuses with this coaching staff. So, I'm happy to have the ability to talk to these guys. I'm a guy that wears his emotions on his sleeve, and the coaches have been great supporting me and asking how I'm doing. Everybody wants us to do well, on the field and off.
For the break, I'll head to New Mexico for a week or so, but then I'll be back here, working out with the guys trying to get better. It's kind of like going into my senior year at New Mexico. I felt that the more film I watched, the better I felt. Now, I have to do the same thing. The more film I watch, that's just going to help me. They say if you come back here after the break, and you're the same as before, you should be good. Well, I don't want to come back here the same as I was before, I want to come back better so that I can jump four or five steps ahead.
And then we have training camp, where I hear I'll get to meet all the fans. I want them to know that I'm just out here looking to have fun and contribute. I want to be able to make the big catches over the middle. I want to be the guy that makes the big hit in the running game. I love the physicality of the game, and if fans don't see that, then respond to this blog and tell me. If they see me shy away from contact, tell me. That's not my style.
I definitely feel that coming into training camp, it's going to be intense. As soon as we put the pads on, I'm going to have fun hitting somebody.
I'm looking forward to that, and I hope the fans do too.
Thanks for reading my part of the Rookie Blog.