Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. returned to the field Friday in a very limited capacity.
His trash talk, however, is already in midseason form.
Smith wasn't going to let an Achilles rupture be his final NFL play, and now that he's put in all the work of nine months of rehab, he's not going to finish with a whimper either.
After getting emotional talking about how he's coming back for the Ravens organization that has stood behind him, and for the teammates he felt he let down last year, Smith quickly flipped the switch.
"And to show you jacka---- that, at 37 years old, I can still play," Smith said.
"I'm sick of y'all saying, 'How can you depend on a 37 year old to play this game after a ruptured Achilles?' We're going to see, because I have people that believe in me and I have a team that trusts me. I rehabbed for nine months. While y'all were sitting there twiddling your thumbs, I was sitting there, four and five days a week for nine months, trying to rehab to get back on the field."
Now that Smith is back, he's letting his opponents know too.
He already put the defensive backs on his own team on notice, saying "the bully is back" and that "vacation is over."
When asked if he was planning on paying respect to every city as part of a farewell tour this year, Smith said he's not out to make friends.
If you're not in the same jersey as me, I plan to rip you to shreds – bottom line," Smith said.
"This is competition. This is football. In competition, guys are hitting you, and I'm going to hit back."
It was one year and eight days ago when Smith announced that the 2015 season would be his last. He said then that "all my chips are on the table."
Smith came out playing like a man on a mission. Through the first half of the season (before his injury in Week 8), he had 46 receptions for 670 yards and three touchdowns. He was on pace for one of the most productive seasons of his career.
Now Smith will be looking to manhandle opponents once again, but this time coming off a gruesome injury and, like he pointed out, at 37 years old.
Reporters questioning Smith isn't all that surprising considering Smith even questioned himself. He told a story from one hot workout in his garage this offseason. Suddenly, he found his mind wondering to the tint on the windows of his truck. To him, that was a sign that his mind wasn't all in that day.
Smith said there were two or three times during his rehab when he felt like, "Man, I'm done with this."
He predicts that fans will see more and more players retiring in the offseason because of the work it takes.
"To work out to look good on the beach is easy, but to run and play football at a high level and be physically fit, that's a requirement that I don't think a lot of people understand," Smith said. "Once you get older, your body does not respond the way it used to. Guys probably go online, look at their bank account and say, 'No, I'm good' and shut it down and say it's not worth it."
Now that Smith has made it all the way back from such a grueling process, there are some wondering if 2016 will now be his swan song. Does Smith have more left in the tank than even he imagined?
"I've been rehabbing for nine months. I know exactly what's left," he said. "Contractually, this is my last year and I'm just going to play ball."
Since Smith said it was his last "contractual" year, and not necessarily the last of his career, he was pressed on whether he could continue after this season. Smith isn't going to make any proclamations this time around.
Before last season, a good friend of Smith's, Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross, told him last year that it was a horrible idea to announce his pending retirement. After the injury, when the two had lunch in Charlotte, Gross joked that the proclamation was why Smith got hurt.
"We're just going to play ball. That's all I'm going to do is play ball," he said. "We're going to have some fun, and we're going to make some plays. Oh yeah, and I happen to be 37 years old while I'm doing it."