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Roquan Smith Feels He Can Help Ravens 'Win the Big Game'

LB Roquan Smith
LB Roquan Smith

In August, after Roquan Smith had reached an impasse with the Chicago Bears on a contract extension, he made a public request to be traded.

But as this week's trade deadline approached, Smith said he honestly didn't plan on getting dealt. So when he got news that the Ravens had come to get him, he was surprised it actually happened.

"Life happens at times. I got traded, so initially I was shocked," Smith said. "But I'm excited to be here. [It's] a good group of guys, guys that are contending for a title, and that's what I'm in the game to play for."

The Ravens reportedly gave up second- and fifth-round picks, as well as veteran linebacker A.J. Klein, to get Smith, a two-time second-team All-Pro and the NFL's leading tackler.

With no assurances that Smith, who is in the final year of his contract, will be signed to a long-term contract extension, the Ravens' move is a clear sign that they believe Smith can not only help get them back into the playoffs, but make a run once there.

After Smith practiced with the team for the first time Wednesday, multiple Ravens players in the locker room said they took the move the same way, and Smith is on board.

"I know they're trying to get over the hump and win the big game," Smith said. "So, I feel like I can be one of the guys that can help with that, so I'm excited to be able to give everything I have to make that happen."

Smith has some familiarity with Baltimore. He was one of the 30 players the Ravens brought to the Under Armour Performance Center for an official visit before the 2018 NFL Draft. He met with some of the coaches, front office members and some players. Smith has some connections on the team too, as he played with defensive end Brent Urban in Chicago in 2020 and running back Mike Davis in 2019. As two Georgia guys, Smith has a relationship with Justin Houston as well.

Smith grew up watching highlights and hype videos of Ray Lewis, and went to one of his camps years ago when he was in college. He plans to reach out to Lewis for advice and tips about Baltimore city.

But for now, Smith is trying to get up to speed as fast as possible so he can make the impact on the Ravens defense that everybody envisions, starting with Monday Night Football in New Orleans. Smith, who represents himself similarly to Lamar Jackson, said he has not had any discussions with General Manager Eric DeCosta on a possible contract extension, and that his focus is solely on the playbook and the Saints.

"My main focus right now is learning the playbook, getting a great relationship with the guys and then going from there," said Smith, who expects to make an impact in his debut against the Saints.

"I don't feel like it's an all-out cram session because I feel like I have a nice understanding of everything that we're doing here on defense. That's part of being a pro, and those guys in the locker room are getting me right, as well as the coaching staff helping me out big time. So, I feel very comfortable with where I'm at right now, and by Monday, I know I'm going to feel even better. So, I'm excited."

And where does Smith think he'll line up in Baltimore's scheme?

"Linebacker; run and hit, and play good ball," he said with a laugh.

Smith made a good first impression in his first day and practice in Baltimore. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh said it's clear the Ravens have "a real beast" in the front seven who can gobble up tackles.

"We already knew what we were capable of," Oweh said. "But now that [Eric DeCosta] is trying to formulate the squad and make us the contender we're supposed to be, it lets your know what the intentions are and what we're supposed to do at the end of the season."

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