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Late For Work 6/6: Steve Smith Changed 2015 Retirement Plans


Steve Smith Changed 2015 Retirement Plans

If it weren't for his release from the Carolina Panthers and subsequent signing with the Ravens, Steve Smith Sr. would be done with football after this season.

His mind was made up after the Panthers were ousted from the playoffs last January. He revealed his plans only to his wife and a few close friends.

"I had been waking up every day about 3 a.m. and wrestling with some things in my quiet time," Smith told's Don Banks. "I finally decided and made the commitment to my family. I told them, 'I'm done. I don't think I can do it much longer.'

"My knee was sore and I knew all the work I had put into my career and what it would take. I came to terms with it, that this year was going to be my last year ever playing football.'"

It's funny how plans change.

Getting cut by the Panthers after a 13-year run gave Smith an unexpected jolt to his career, mind and body. He immediately went to work getting his 35-year-old body ready for more, his knee started to feel better and he got a three-year deal with the Ravens.

Now, his new plan is to sing his swan song in Baltimore.

"After this contract with the Baltimore Ravens, I am done," Smith said. "I'm going to be a stay-at-home dad, and I'm going to get on with the rest of my life's work. I know sometimes there are people saying, 'Oh, he needs to just let it go.' Believe me, I will. I'm going to let it go.

"But I'm going to take a few people down with me. Not in spite, but just fun. I'm going to enjoy playing ball again. I'm going to have fun here."

Smith was highly sought after as soon as he was let go by Carolina, and Head Coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens went into full recruitment mode. They managed to get the first crack at Smith, picked him up at the airport at 11 p.m. and they talked at Harbaugh's home until 2:30 a.m.

The plan was for Smith to continue his free-agency tour after meeting in Baltimore, including with the New England Patriots, but after spending a day with the Ravens, Smith cancelled his subsequent visits.

"Free agency is like dating," Smith said. "I've been married for 14 years, but it's like dating because all you have to have is one that believes in you. And if it's the right one, it can be a great thing."
Torrey Smith Catching 'Everything'

Already in his short time with the Ravens this offseason, Steve Smith's influence is rubbing off on the younger receivers.

Take for example Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown.

"Torrey Smith is catching everything thrown his way," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley after watching practice Wednesday. "He was blanketed by cornerback Jimmy Smith along the sideline and still found a way to come down with the ball by making an adjustment in mid-air.

"That was part of Torrey Smith's game that I didn't see much of last season."

Think Steve Smith may have anything to do with the fourth-year receiver's improvement? Torrey Smith told Banks that the elder receiver has been helpful in teaching him how to come back and get the ball.

"That's one thing he's been talking to me about, coming back to the ball on a consistent basis," Torrey said. "He's awesome at it. He jokes with me every time I hesitate or I don't come all the way back for it. That's probably the No. 1 thing I'm looking forward to learning from him. He's just such a competitor, and he definitely has some fire to him. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, but it's a good thing. He plays with passion and you can never have too many of those guys.''

Brown too understands that he has a unique opportunity to pick the seasoned veteran's brain, and Brown's not letting a moment go wasted.

"It is kind of interesting watching second-year receiver Marlon Brown in camp, because he has taken to veteran receiver Steve Smith," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston. "He is like Smith's shadow and is always asking him questions."

Rice Back To Taking Nearly All First-Team Reps

Many media members observed last week that backup running back Justin Forsett was taking a big chunk of the first-team reps with the offense.

Some even noted Forsett got more than starter Ray Rice, including Hensley.

Some speculated that Forsett's work with the first-team offense last week was a message to Rice after a down year in 2013 and off-the-field issues, but that doesn't seem to be the case as Rice took over the bulk of first-team reps Wednesday.

And he looked good, per Hensley.

"There was no question about who was taking the snaps with the starting offense on Wednesday," Hensley wrote. "Ray Rice was behind Joe Flacco on nearly every play. For the second straight time, Rice showed he could hit that extra gear after getting the ball, especially when catching a pass in the open field."

In case Rice does face a suspension early in the season or backup Bernard Pierce is rusty after offseason surgery, there is good news that Forsett appears capable of filling in. It's tough to get a true gauge in organized team activities (OTAs) with no contact on how players will perform in the season, but the early signs are positive on Forsett.

"Every time I watch running back Justin Forsett practice I am impressed by his quickness," wrote Preston. "I look forward to seeing him play in the preseason, and what he does if starter Ray Rice is suspended early in the season."

Ravens Roster Ranked As 'Average' At No. 16

The peeps at Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked all 32 NFL rosters, and the Ravens came in on the list in the dead center with an “average” ranking of No. 16.

"This assessment is a little off, and some of the Ravens players were underrated," Hensley wrote of PFF's conclusion.

PFF's Sam Monson went deeper than just ranking the overall rosters.* *He also ranked each starter in one of eight categories:  elite, high quality, good starter, average starter, below-average starter, poor starter, not enough information and rookie.

Hensley believes quarterback Joe Flacco, cornerback Jimmy Smith and linebacker Daryl Smith were underrated. Additionally, if they can bounce back from injuries, Hensley thinks offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels can be upgraded.

The one player Hensley thought is overrated is linebacker Elvis Dumervil because he is "a high-quality pass-rusher but not starter." 

What do you think of PFF's rankings below? Who is over and underrated?

QB Joe Flacco: Average starter
RB Ray Rice: Average starter
TE Owen Daniels: Average starter
TE Dennis Pitta: Good starter
WR Torrey Smith: Good starter
WR Steve Smith: Good starter
WR Marlon Brown: Average starter
LT: Eugene Monroe: Good starter
LG Kelechi Osemele: Average starter
C Jeremy Zuttah: Average starter
RG Marshal Yanda: High-quality starter
RT Rick Wagner: Not enough information

LE DeAngelo Tyson: Average starter (Brandon Williams could be the starter)
NT Haloti Ngata: Good starter
RE Chris Canty: Average starter
LOLB Elvis Dumervil: High-quality starter
LILB C.J. Mosley: Rookie
RILB Daryl Smith: Average starter
ROLB Terrell Suggs: Good starter
LCB: Chykie Brown: Below-average starter
RCB Jimmy Smith: Average starter
SCB Lardarius Webb: High-quality starter
SS Matt Elam: Average starter
FS Terrence Brooks: Rookie (Darian Stewart could be the starter)

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