What Carolina Is Saying About 'Steve Smith Week'
It's interesting to take a gander at what the media and bloggers are saying in Charlotte.
Week 4 has been unofficially dubbed "Steve Smith Week" by the Charlotte Observer.
The matchup is being called the "Revenge Game."
CBS Charlotte's Tremaine Sloan repeatedly played the now viral comments from Steve Smith on the sideline of the Ravens-Bengals game yelling into the camera, "Think I can't play? You gonna find out Week 4." (That was my edited family-friendly version of the quote.)
"Yeeeah, he's waiting on you Week 4 – Steve Smith," Sloan said. "This Sunday, he's going to single-handedly dismantle the Carolina Panthers organization."
That's a little too dramatic for my taste, but it gives you an idea of the scene down in Carolina.
Smith himself has even noticed a difference on Twitter.
Find it hilarious that this morning I have some new followers that are news ppl from Charlotte I guess they think I will say something "DUH" — Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) September 23, 2014
As much as everyone wants to make this weekend's matchup about "Steve Smith vs. the entire Panthers franchise," Carolina Head Coach Ron Rivera clearly doesn't.
"Steve's playing very well for them, but it's going to be the Carolina Panthers versus the Baltimore Ravens," he said.
He's right, on both accounts. I imagine you'll hear a similar TEAM sentiment come out of Baltimore when players and coaches meet with reporters later today.
Smith is leading the Ravens in targets (31), receptions (18) and receiving yards (290). Those yards more than double the No. 2 receiver on the list.
At 35, Smith is laughing in the face of Father Time.
And both the Charlotte media and former teammates and coaches have mad respect for all that Smith has accomplished with his new team.
"Smith's skills aren't the reason he's no longer with the Panthers, the team's desire to hand the locker room over to quarterback Cam Newton and allow the younger players to lead the team without incident is," wrote The Observer's Jonathan Jones.
"We look forward to the challenge," said Panthers Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott. "We've got the utmost respect for him. We've got our work cut out for us this week. It's another good offense, in their stadium."
McDermott's defense allowed 37 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, and he has the task of finding a way of not only rebounding from such a rough outing, but also finding a way to limit a motivated Smith.
Jones believes the key is to be physical, but not get Smith riled up.
"Ever the competitor, Smith knows what buttons he could push with Carolina's defenders, and the Panthers must keep their cool," wrote Jones.
After all, nobody wants to poke a sleeping bear … or should I say lion?
Dennis Pitta Has 'Successful' Surgery
Tight end Dennis Pitta has cleared his first hurdle since re-injuring his right hip.
His surgery in Cleveland to repair a fractured, dislocated right hip was "successful," according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Pitta remains at the University Hospitals in Cleveland as he recovers, and the plan is for him to return to Baltimore next week, per the report.
Head Coach John Harbaugh already declared Pitta out for the rest of the season, so the next question is whether Pitta can continue his career. After dislocating the same hip twice in the last 14 months, there is concern that he suffered such a serious injury again without even being touched.
"The question of whether he'll attempt to or will play again remains undetermined," wrote Wilson. "Teammates have predicted that Pitta will try to play football again because of his personality."
Week 4 Power Rankings
The Ravens keep climbing the majority of power rankings, and in some cases, leaping up them.
ESPN: No. 13 (no movement)
"Joe Flacco is averaging 9.1 yards per attempt targeting Steve Smith Sr. and 4.9 to all other targets. Smith is stepping up while namesake Torrey has stumbled (caught six of 15 targets)."
SportingNews.com, Vinnie Iyer: No. 9 (moved up five spots)
"Joe Flacco and the running game have made this offense look a whole lot better than last season. Their defense looks more like what it should. The off-field circus is taking away from their improvements on the field."
Fox Sports, Dan Schneier: No. 10 (moved up three spots)
"Aided by two missed field goals by the Browns, the Ravens survived after a defensive stop followed by a game-winning field goal drive on back-to-back possessions. Led by LG Kelechi Osemele, who has allowed just one pressure all season, the Ravens offensive line dominated again, allowing just 11 total pressures and paving the way for the running backs to accumulate a 4.8 yards-per-carry average."
SB Nation, Danny Kelly: No. 7 (moved up five spots)
ProFootballTalk.com, Mike Florio: No. 7 (moved up three spots)
"Given the way this team plays under duress, maybe the next conspiracy should be to start more conspiracies."
CBSSports.com, Pat Kirwan: No. 9 (moved up 10 spots)
"Joe Flacco is Mr. Cool. When it looked like the Ravens would lose to the Browns he delivered. Keep an eye on rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. The Panthers and Colts are the next two opponents and those games should tell us more about Baltimore."
NFL.com, Elliot Harrison: No. 9 (moved up five spots)
"Baltimore gets out of Cleveland with the close win and will keep plodding along, despite the lack of a dominant defender or someone who is clearly the man in the running game. This week, the role of Justin Forsett and Bernard Pierce was filled by rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. Who hasn't heard of him? In case you were wondering, Taliaferro was a feared Chanticleer in college; he's also a Capricorn and loves kittens. OK, I made that last part up ... but he did gain 5.1 yards per carry on 18 totes Sunday."
The Baltimore Sun, Jon Meoli: No. 10 (didn't make top-10 list)
"The Ravens debut in these rankings on the strength of their offense's performance after it was booed off the field in the first half of the Cincinnati game Week 1. Since then, they've scored 65 points in five halves of football and have done better to establish the running game. The defense has some work to do, but they won't ever be out of a game with the steady offense they're showing."
- Hey Clifton Brown, any word on safety Will Hill? "If Hill's six-game suspension is going to be reduced due to the NFL's new substance-abuse policy, the Ravens have not been informed. Hill has served three games already, so worst-case scenario he'll be back after Week 6. But you can bet the Ravens have inquired about Hill's status. They could use him." [CSNBaltimore.com]
- What the Ravens must fix heading into the matchup against the Panthers. [ESPN]
- Fantasy: Ravens funning back Lorenzo Taliaferro headlines waiver wire. [CSNBaltimore.com]
- ESPN addressed the text-message mishap in the Ravens story, acknowledging they should not have appeared as direct quotes. Wrote Mike Florio, "[T]he clear and obvious error in the presentation invites fair questions regarding whether other aspects of the story are incorrect, especially in light of the strong (albeit belated) written response the Ravens provided to 15 different aspects of the report." [ProFootballTalk.com]