Jimmy Smith has big plans this year.
After the best season of his career in 2013 – he emerged as a quality starter and one of the Ravens' top defenders – Smith made it clear at the start of training camp that he has even higher expectations for the upcoming season.
"It's time for me to show up – to really show up," Smith said Friday after practice. "It's my fourth year. It's not about contracts and all of that, but it's just time to take my game to another level and I'm ready for that."
Smith is going into the season as one of the team's top cornerbacks along with Lardarius Webb. The two defenders regularly debate who gets to wear the unofficial title of the No. 1 corner, and Smith could make a strong case for the distinction.
He's coming off a year where he has 58 tackles, two interceptions and 16 passes defensed, and a top priority this season is to increase the number of interceptions. Smith's goals also extend beyond personal expectations, as wants to be a key piece of a much-improved defense.
"We were 8-8 last year. Our defense was ranked No. 12 overall. Our secondary had a lot to do with that," Smith said.
"We have to be a top five defense. Top three. Number one, really. In order to do that it, it starts with everyone on there and I'm taking ownership to say that I need to step up along with everyone else on the defense."
Smith is setting himself up for a nice payday in the relatively near future if he continues his upward trend. He has two years remaining on his rookie contract, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome has said that he wants to reach a long-term extension with him.
A deal could come well before his current contract expires, but Smith isn't expecting something immediate.
"I have two years left," Smith said. "And I'm pretty sure I'll be going all two years [before getting a new contract]. That's my mindset, anyway."
Smith's comments come after he was arrested two weeks ago on charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Smith did not take questions about the situation, but told reporters it would "not in the least" be a distraction this year.
"The incident that occurred is still a legal matter so I'm not able to discuss that right now," he said. "When it's handled I will talk about it and give you my side of the story."
Smith, 25, is heading into his fourth season and recognizes that he's becoming a veteran player who has more of a leadership role on the team.
"I will definitely try to lead by example. That's weird to say right now since everything just happened," he said. "But I feel like as a fourth-year player, guys look up to you, and I think you definitely have to step forward and be some type of leader. It may not be a vocal guy, it's what you do on the field and how you carry yourself as a professional."
Smith also went through a significant life event within the last few days, as his first child was born. Smith explained that the birth of his son, James, has already affected the way he approaches football.
"It's a very humbling experience and it will change you. As soon as you see your child, it will change you immediately," Smith said. "It's something that it's a responsibility that you can never give back. He relies on me for the rest of his life. And he doesn't even know it yet. For me it's huge, it's my world right now."