Williams Has His 'Blood And Guts' Goggles Ready
We figured SOMEBODY on the Panthers would do this, right?
When Steve Smith Sr. was released by Carolina in March, he urged people to put on their goggles because "blood and guts" would be everywhere when he collides with his former team.
Well, they are set to clash Sunday, and running back DeAngelo Williams has obliged.
Williams wore his ATV goggles in the Panthers locker room yesterday as he met with reporters. And just in case Smith missed every sports website in America calling attention to it, Williams tweeted at Smith to ensure he saw.
In case you're wondering, Smith has not replied via Twitter (yet?).
Williams has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, but he returned to practice and is expected in* *the starting lineup this week. When asked if he feels healthy enough to carry the load in the backfield, Williams replied, "I got my goggles, I got my eye protection, and I'm ready to go."
"I just happened to have a pair around," Williams said in the video below. "I've used them in the past, but it wasn't for blood and guts. It was to keep mud out of my eyes when I was on my ATV. But they're good for multiple occasions."
Translation: They are meant for Smith and the Baltimore Ravens.
Unprompted, Williams brought up the "message" Smith left for the Panthers in Week 1. After scoring an 80-yard touchdown in the Ravens' loss to the Bengals, Smith shouted into a television camera, "Hey, if you think I can't play, you're going to find out in Week 4."
We all know Week 4 is Ravens-Panthers time.
The two former teammates, both aging veterans, are highly motivated to prove who can still play.
The Panthers are averaging just 72.3 yards rushing on the season, but that has been without Williams the last two weeks. In Week 1, when Williams played, Carolina broke the 100-yard barrier. Last season, the Panthers averaged 126.6 yards a game.
"I spent eight years with Steve, and I know how fiery he is, and I know how good the Ravens are," Williams said. "We'll all know the answer to the end of that message come Sunday."
So does Williams really expect blood and guts?
"I wouldn't say that," he said. "It's a football game. That sounds more like surgery when you say blood and guts. I'm an Eric Dickerson fan. That's why I have the goggles on.''
Uh-huh. And I suppose those are prescription like Dickerson's goggles.
This should get interesting Sunday.
Help Smith Up? Panthers LBs Say They Won't
Don't expect Smith's former teammates to show him much love on the field.
In the event that the Ravens' 35-year-old receiver is tackled, Panthers linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly aren't about to lend him a helping hand to lift him off the ground.
"We talk trash a lot," Davis said, per The Observer. "We talked trash a lot when he was here, so nothing's changed now that he's gone.
"I'll talk to him after the game, but I'm not helping him up."
OK. Kuechly, how about you?
"Nah," Kuechly said. "It's one of those things in the game where everything's happening so fast, you don't know who you're tackling when you tackle them. You just know that the guy's got to the ball and you've got to bring him down."
Hey, but wait. You helped up Patriots receiver Brandon LeFell – a former Panthers teammate. What's up with that?
"That was the preseason," Kuechly said with a smile.
Kubiak Felt Bad For Torrey
Everybody is asking where Torrey Smith is.
The Ravens receiver has just six catches for 85 yards on the season, and he had another quiet outing in Cleveland Sunday with just two receptions.
But per Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, the stat line doesn't account for how well he's playing. Per Kubiak, Smith is out there, and he's open, he is just being missed and drawing* *pass interference calls.
"We'll see what happens, but I'll tell you this: Torrey had a great week last week," Kubiak said, per The Baltimore Sun. "We had five opportunities for him to have big plays in the game.
"I kind of felt bad for him coming out of the game. He really had a chance to make some big plays. We missed him in the end zone. He's working extremely well."
Preston: With Kubiak, Ravens Can Overcome Injuries
Dennis Pitta. Eugene* *Monroe.
Missing these two key offensive players could constitute a dire situation with the Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers coming up on the schedule. Pitta is done for the season and Monroe will be out "some number of weeks" after knee surgery.* *
But there's hope the Ravens can weather the injury storm, says The Sun's Mike Preston.
"[I]t is not as dire as it would have been had these two players been injured at the same time during the past two seasons," the columnist wrote.
"Why? Gary Kubiak. The confidence level is higher now with Kubiak calling plays instead of Cam Cameron or Jim Caldwell."
Week 4: Panthers vs. Ravens Picks
It's prediction time, and it feels weird this time around.
Only one – yes, just one – of the 35 analysts below thinks the Panthers will upset the Ravens. Baltimore fans are used to being the underdogs.
Knock on wood.
Baltimore Sun: 7 of 7 pick Ravens
Jeff Zrebiec (Ravens 20, Panthers 16): "The Panthers are better than what they showed last week, but the Ravens will take advantage of their opponent's myriad injuries and ride the energy of Steve Smith and their home crowd."
Mike Preston (Ravens 27, Panthers 21): "The Panthers don't seem to be close to finding their groove yet, and the Ravens have something going on the offensive side."
ESPN.com: 13 of 13 pick the Ravens
Yahoo! Sports: 1 of 2 pick Ravens
NFL.com (Elliot Harrison): Ravens 20, Panthers 17
"So Smith will say the right things, maybe get in a few scraps, catch eight balls for 99 yards and a touchdown, play two more years for Baltimore, then sign a one-day "contract" to retire as a Carolina Panther. Of course, that's in the future. Sadly for the host Ravens, they'll have to deal with the absence of another pass catcher in the here and now, as tight end Dennis Pitta is out for the rest of the season. With some mixture of Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro running the ball, it's safe to say Baltimore won't put up 264 rushing yards on the Panthers defense like Pittsburgh did last week. The question is, can Cam Newton make his throws in the intermediate passing game for Carolina? That offense has been abysmal on third down (it ranks 29th in the NFL)."
CBSSports.com: 8 of 8 pick Ravens
Pete Prisco: Ravens 23, Panthers 17
"The Panthers were pushed around in a big way against the Steelers last week. They have to be better against the run here. The Ravens will pound it at them with an improved offensive line. Steve Smith will make a big play down the field against his former team, too. Ravens take it."
ProFootballTalk.com: 2 of 2 pick Ravens
Mike Florio: Ravens 30, Panthers 17
"There may not be guts, but there will be blood as Steve Smith gets a chance to make the Panthers pay something above and above the guaranteed money they paid him not to play in Carolina this year."
Michael David Smith: Ravens 34, Panthers 17
Steve Smith is promising blood and guts, and he'll have a big day against his old team as the Ravens become the second straight AFC North team to put a hurting on the Panthers."
SportingNews.com (Vinnie Iyer): Ravens 16, Panthers 13
"In the history of players circling games, no one has drawn a bigger one than venerable Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. when he saw his old Panthers were on the Week 4 schedule. Just the chance to play Carolina right away was motivation to join Baltimore after his dismissal. It's not just words: His play on the field so far has been an extension of his trash talk. His replacement, rookie Kelvin Benjamin, is shining as the new go-to guy for Cam Newton. But in addition to the spark Smith has given the Ravens, they have a lot more pop around Joe Flacco, even with Dennis Pitta out. Expect the game to be defensively gritty, until that one game-changing play by 'Smitty.'"
FoxSports.com (Peter Schrager): Ravens 24, Panthers 20
"Are we ready for the Darrin Reaves Era? How about the Brenton Bersin Era? With injuries piling up at both the running back and wide receiver spots in Carolina, the Panthers may have to turn to these relative unknowns for production on Sunday. Reaves is an undrafted rookie free agent out of UAB. With DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and Fozzy Whitaker all battling health issues, Reaves could be toting the rock on Sunday. And Brenton Bersin? You don't know Brenton Bersin? Have you been living under a rock? Bersin is the first Wofford College player to make an NFL opening day roster since Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. The wideout, who's caught two balls this season, went undrafted in 2012, was cut by the Panthers two different times that season, and was considering a job in finance prior to this year. Steve Smith's suiting up in Baltimore for the Ravens on Sunday. Brenton Bersin could be getting targets for the Panthers."
- "The sounds of 'Heeeap' will once again be heard at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, when former tight end Todd Heap becomes the eighth Baltimore Ravens player to be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor," wrote Jamison Hensley. "Heap never earned a Super Bowl ring like so many of the other names on the stadium facade. He only went to two Pro Bowls. The reason why Heap deserves a spot in the Ring is his toughness and class. If the NFL kept track of hits sustained on every catch, Heap would've been the league leader during his decade with the Ravens. He was involved in so many rough collisions that he doesn't remember how many concussions he's had in his career." [ESPN]
- Joe Flacco: Losing offensive players can't be an excuse. [CSNBaltimore.com]
- The return of DeAngelo Williams lifts Panthers' spirits. [ProFootballTalk.com]
- The Carolina Panthers may not be tough enough to beat the Baltimore Ravens. [The Charlotte Observer]
- Dealing with the loss of Dennis Pitta, the Ravens are confident in ' skills. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Defensive lineman Terrence Cody expects to play this season despite his offseason hip surgery. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Wide receiver Marlon Brown has just one reception for 15 yards through three games. His attitude is to do "anything I can to help." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Flacco and undrafted rookie James Hurst talk about filling in for Monroe at left tackle. [CSNBaltimore.com]