Late For Work 8/25: Will Steve Smith Retire A Raven Or Panther? His Strong Reply

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Will Steve Smith Retire A Raven Or Panther? His Strong Reply

When Steve Smith Sr. announced his retirement earlier this month, I personally assumed he would retire a Panther.

After all, he was drafted by the franchise and spent 13 years in Carolina. By the time his career wraps up, he will have played in Baltimore for just two seasons. I suppose if he won Super Bowl 50 with the purple and black, there would be a stronger argument for him to retire a Raven.

But either way, Smith wants to make one thing very clear: this is his decision, whether you like it or not.

"Let's put this to bed," Smith wrote on his Instagram account last week. "I plan on enjoying this last ride. But I will retire with and whomever myself and my family decide. I spend 13yrs as a panther but I'm no longer THAT. I'm a #ravens and I #playlikearaven."

That seems to imply that retiring a Raven is at least an option, which may surprise some (or at least me). Still, regardless of which fan base onlookers identify with, his hope is that, along the way, they have become a fan of Steve Smith, regardless of what jersey color he wears.

"To all the #stevesmithsr fans thank you for your support," he continued. "At the appropriate time I will do what I feel is right. For what its worth I respect people but if and when I feel like you Dont respect me I Dont mess with you!!! I guess that's those Thug/Goon rules i live by that a few ppl seem to call me on here. #agent89out."

While Smith hasn't made a final decision and fans will likely be very interested when he does, one has to ask: "What does that even mean?"

Retiring with a specific team has little impact on … anything really. The gesture is mostly ceremonial.

Players aren't inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame attached to any specific team – something to keep in mind if Smith gets the votes down the line. He'd simply be inducted as himself. There are team press conferences when a player announces his retirement, which Smith has already done as a Raven. I suppose he could have another at the end of the season where the Ravens honor him.

Smith could also sign a one-day contract with the Panthers just like Ed Reed and Jarret Johnson did this offseason in Baltimore (Johnson didn't actually sign a contract because the Ravens had already built their 90-man roster, but the plan is to do it down the road).

It was a classy gesture and great for fans to see, but again, it had little official impact. Even if Smith didn't sign a one-day contract with the Panthers, I doubt it would prevent the Carolina organization from honoring him, for example, in their "Hall of Honor." And the vice versa would be true if Baltimore wanted to honor him.

All of that said, a ceremonial act of some sort could mean a great deal to fans, front office executives and Smith and his family. It is a decision he is clearly weighing.

Until that time comes, Smith will finish his career with the Ravens, and he's happy about that fact.

"There's something about [Baltimore]," Smith said when he announced his retirement on Aug. 10. "I feel like this is the best place. This is the best place to end."

Ngata Wants To Prove Ravens Wrong

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been sidelined for all of training camp with a hamstring injury and it's unclear when he will return.

But when he does, he is motivated to prove the Ravens were wrong for trading him to the Detroit Lions this offseason.

"I definitely have a chip on my shoulder because I got traded," Ngata told Tim Twentyman of the Lions website. "Somebody didn't want me and going to a place that wants you is pretty awesome. So, definitely, I feel like I have a different attitude and mentality towards it, a trying to prove someone wrong kind of thing."

While it's not unusual for players to use trades or releases as motivation, don't think the Ravens didn't "want" him. In fact, the opposite is true. The Ravens front office said they felt "sick" when they had to trade him. I suppose you can find a way to keep any player under contract, but it wasn't practical. The Ravens really couldn't afford his scheduled $16 million cap hit.

I can't afford my dream car, the Bentley Continental, but that doesn't mean I don't want it.

Nonetheless, this is a contract year for Ngata as he is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season, and he'll need a big year to get a strong final career contract. So first things first, he'll need to get back on the field before he can prove anyone wrong.

"All the motivation in the world won't mean a thing if Ngata isn't healthy enough to get on the field so, for now, the pain in his hamstring is a bigger factor than the chip on his shoulder," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.

Taliaferro Injury Makes Allen Investment More Important

The Ravens will be without running back Lorenzo Taliaferro for "a few weeks." He's a player who showed major improvement over his rookie 2014 season. He was the top backup to Justin Forsett, and proving he could handle a greater role after he trimmed down in the offseason.

Taliaferro clearly plans on being back:

Still there is no guarantee that Taliaferro will be back and ready for the regular season, making it even more important for the next players on the depth chart to step up.

"The injury makes the investment of a fourth rounder in RB Javorius 'Buck' Allen that much more important," wrote BaltimoreBeatdown's Yitzi Weiss. "I'd imagine that in the remainder of [the preseason], we'll see a larger battle between Allen and Terrence Magee for the backup spot and short yardage." 

Second-year back Fitzgerald Toussaint is also in the mix with the two rookies.

Allen has 17 carries for 54 yards in the preseason and Toussaint has nine for 31. Many Ravens fans learned of Magee or the first time Saturday night when the undrafted rookie led the Ravens with 11 carries for 44 yards.

"Overshadowed by the wide receiver battle thus far, Magee has been making a case for the Ravens to hold onto four rushers this season and with Taliaferro out for a couple of weeks, could even make a case for seeing some serious carries," wrote Weiss.

O-Line Gets Healthier, While 33 Players Miss Practice

The Ravens were down 33 players of the 90-man roster yesterday, according to The Baltimore Sun.

While 33 missing at practice is eye-catching, it was a day Head Coach John Harbaugh already had scheduled.

He gave his veterans and starters the day off, an annual occurrence, and the timing couldn't be better with the large number of banged-up Ravens.

"This was a practice for young guys, guys we felt needed reps, guys who are fighting to make the team — and a special teams emphasis practice," Harbaugh said. "That's where we had an emphasis today, a good tough practice in pads and they did a good job with it."

The good news is the offensive line got back some needed reinforcements after six did not dress for the game in Philadelphia. Rick Wagner (foot), Jah Reid (back) and John Urschel (concussion) all returned Monday.

Could Renner Be Backup Of Future?

Third-string quarterback Bryn Renner has been impressive in his two preseason performances. He led a game-winning drive against the Saints, and he got the offense moving in Philadelphia when the previous three quarters were a struggle.

It's clear that Matt Schaub is the primary backup this season, but what about beyond 2015?

"Renner is getting more snaps than the third quarterback on the Ravens roster typically gets, and that could mean a number of things," wrote The Sun's Jon Meoli. "The most interesting scenario would be that he's a legitimate threat to Matt Schaub for the No. 2 quarterback job.

"More realistic is that they want to make sure they have what they think they have in Renner, and could keep him on the practice squad in hopes of him being the backup of the future. Either way, Renner was better this week than he was in the opener, even if there wasn't a signature game-winning drive Saturday."

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