Consistently getting open in the middle of the field, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta caught nine passes for 102 yards. In just his second game back after a nearly two-year absence, he produced his second-most receiving yards of his career.
"I see what Dennis is doing and, man, I'm inspired," Ravens wide receiver Steve L Smith Sr. said. "It's great to play with a guy like that. To see how he's playing after what he went through, and seeing him shifty and being the old Dennis, it's fantastic."
The chemistry between Pitta and quarterback Joe Flacco is remarkable considering they haven't been on the field together much. Pitta didn't play all of last year, and he missed a month of training camp with a fractured finger. When Pitta practiced during the spring, Flacco was sidelined while recovering from knee surgery.
Flacco threw to Pitta five times on third downs, completing four passes (all led to first downs). No one else on the Ravens caught more than two throws on third down. Pitta certainly seems worth a pickup if you're struggling at the position as the chemistry aspect should only get better the longer they can remain on the field together. The Ravens' other tight ends -- Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams -- have combined for two catches for 27 yards. Comparatively, Pitta has a team-leading 12 receptions for 141 yards through the first two weeks of the season.
It will be interesting to see how much the 37-year-old Smith is able to handle next week at practice. If he's a full go in the next couple of weeks then he'll begin to move up our rankings.
Ravens WR Steve L Smith opened up about why he returned for another season.
"A thousand receptions, to be honest," Smith said after the Ravens finished their second day of a three-day minicamp in Owings Mills. "You've got to have something to strive for."
"I may catch that, in my uniform, get in my car and go home," Smith said with a smile. "Straight from there. Drive all the way from M&T Bank [Stadium] straight to Charlotte [N.C.] in one shot."
While Ravens coach John Harbaugh has always encouraged players returning from an injury the previous season to try to get live competition in the preseason, it's likely the coach will let Smith decide if he'd rather play or rest.
For now, it appears Smith would vote against coming back before the Sept. 11 opener against the Buffalo Bills.
"I've been very comfortable throughout my career not playing in the preseason," Smith said. "I don't have any problem with that. Just four games that don't count and the liability of injury at the senior citizen age that I am, I think probably staying out will be good."
Through eight weeks, Smith was the #10 WR in PPR formats before tearing his Achilles. He’s 37, and doesn’t plan to play in the preseason, though he expects to be ready for Week 1. He’s still the best receiver on the team when healthy, but that’s a big caveat at this point in his career.
We'll see what being "fine for the season" really means. He's likely to miss a number of practices and may have to earn his playing time as the season begins if he's not able to participate in camp. More concrete timelines should come out in the next week or so.
Smith, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, showed an impressive burst and change of direction to avoid it.
Smith tore his Achilles tendon on Nov. 1 and hasn't participated in any offseason workouts. In March, Smith said he was confident he would be ready for the start of the regular season. On Sunday, he declined to give a timetable on his return.
"I don't know when I'm coming back," he said. "I just know I have to be able to do something in training camp to be able to play for the season. That's just the way I operate. I can't go from doing absolutely nothing [and] sitting on my butt for all of training camp and then go out there and play."
It's a bad idea to doubt Smith, who is one of the toughest and most resilient players in the league. But he's a 37-year-old coming off of an Achilles injury. When healthy, he'll be the WR1 for the Ravens, but one has to wonder just how many games he'll be able to play this season. Father Time is undefeated.
It won’t be easy, but it will be on quarterback Joe Flacco and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman to get everyone involved. However they do it, Aiken deserves a prominent role.
It's difficult to project the Baltimore receiving corps. Steve L Smith seems to be the WR1 if healthy, but he's 37 years old and coming off of a season-ending injury. Breshad Perriman was a 1st round pick and the team signed Mike Wallace in the offseason. Aiken was the most productive receiver in 2015 and is certainly the best bet to replace Smith if he were to miss any time.
Friday, November 13, 2015, 6:45pm
Ravens TE Crockett Gillmore (shoulder, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 10. Gillmore is a Sneaky Start against the Jaguars with Steve L Smith’s targets up for grabs.
Thursday, November 12, 2015, 6:09pm
Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 6:46pm
Ravens TE Crockett Gillmore (shoulder) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Gillmore should be able to play through the shoulder injury and may see a few extra looks with Steve L Smith out for the year.
This is what happens when Steve L Smith is lost for the season with an Achilles injury and first-round pick Breshad Perriman is sidelined with a sprained knee. If Sunday's 29-26 win over the San Diego Chargers is any indication, Aiken will assume Smith's role as Joe Flacco's top target.
After Smith left late in the third quarter, Aiken was targeted on half of Flacco's 10 passes. He caught five passes for 59 yards in a little over a quarter and drew a key 21-yard pass-interference penalty that set up the winning kick.
Steve L Smith's retirement tour was cut short Sunday in the cruelest way imaginable.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced that Smith suffered a torn Achilles during the team's 29-26 win over the Chargers in Baltimore.
The 36-year old announced in August that this would be his final campaign, and our final image of him will be a sad one. Smith had to be carried off the field with a towel over his face, unable to put any weight on his right leg. Just minutes prior to the injury, Smith had passed Cris Carter for 10th in career receiving yards.
"He's pretty shook up about it," Harbaugh said after the game. "Shook up's not a right word. He's just really -- he's hurting."
There have been those speculating Smith wasn't ruling out coming back next year because of not wanting to go out on a losing season, so it remains to be seen if this injury changes his mind.
Friday, October 30, 2015, 6:45pm
Ravens WR Steve L Smith (knee, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 8. This is a new injury for ol’ Smitty, who was just dealing with fractured vertebrae in his back. According to beat writer Jamison Hensley, Smith was a little gimpy in a limited practice on Friday, but the probable tag means that he’s going to play.
Thursday, October 29, 2015, 6:14pm
Ravens WR Steve L Smith (knee) was added to the injury report Thursday after taking limited practice reps. This is a new injury for ol’ Smitty, who was just dealing with fractured vertebrae in his back. We’ll see what he can do on Friday.
The Baltimore Ravens said they won't trade wide receiver Steve L Smith, even though it's in the best interest of the team and the the five-time Pro Bowl player to do so if Smith does intend to retire at the end of the season.
A trade would give the one-win Ravens an additional draft pick that's needed to help rebuild the team, and Smith would play his final season for a Super Bowl contender.
So, why won't Baltimore deal Smith? Perhaps the Ravens believe Smith is wavering about this being his final season, and the next 10 weeks gives them a chance to persuade him to come back.
Last week, Smith told Baltimore reporters as well as Arizona reporters on a conference call that he remains "on schedule" for what he announced earlier this year. The fact that he doesn't even say the word "retirement" makes it sound like he's not as definitive as he was two months ago. If Smith wants to end speculation that he is contemplating delaying retirement for a season, all he has to say is he's definitely retiring at the end the year and nothing will change his mind. But he hasn't, and the Ravens have to be pleased that he hasn't, the story said.
Friday, October 16, 2015, 6:15pm
Ravens WR Steve L Smith (back, questionable) took limited practice reps Thursday and is questionable for Week 6. Smith is practicing but “doesn’t have the same burst,” per beat writer Jamison Hensley. He told reporters that his “expectation of playing is very low.” Kamar Aiken will be a Sneaky Start again this week with Smith likely sidelined.
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