Daryl Smith has spent much of his NFL career flying under the radar.
But when the Ravens took the field for their first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), the veteran middle linebacker was certainly noticed. Smith, a 12-year veteran, was the defense's elder statesman during the voluntary practices, and his attendance garnered praise from teammates and coaches.
"It means a lot seeing a guy of that stature who has been in the league that long coming out here and putting the work in just like us," third-year defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "You can play with a guy like that. You can believe in a guy like that."
The 33-year-old linebacker is heading into his third season in Baltimore, and he has quietly been one of the team's most reliable players. Smith has started every game as a Raven, hardly missing a snap, and has a team-high 251 tackles over that two-year period.
Smith is entrenched in the starting lineup, but he still wanted to take part in the voluntary workouts.
"Daryl being out there as a veteran leader on defense [is valuable]," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "[He is] getting guys lined up, just running the show and showing the young linebackers how to run the show. … It's a big plus for us."
Smith took the first-team reps during practice, barking out play calls for the rest of the unit. He also demonstrated he wasn't just showing up for appearance sake, as the coaches graded him as one of the top performers during practice.
"He's still a very good player," Harbaugh said. "I think he led the defense in production points per play yesterday in practice, too, so he can still play."
The Ravens had a strong overall showing from the veterans during OTAs, and the offense also had several key players participating like quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and running back Justin Forsett.
"You get some time away – which is always good – and then when you come back, you're excited to be here," Smith Sr. said. "I've always been one of those guys. I get away, but then you have that excitement coming back here."