Age is merely but a number when it comes to new Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr.
The veteran wide receiver who turned 35 in May has no doubts about his ability to still play the game of football at a high level. Those who do doubt the veteran playmaker’s skills only add fuel to his desire to prove his critics wrong.
“Competition! I love competition,” Smith Sr. remarked when asked about his age and why he strives to continue to improve himself.
“Also, you know I would say you guys [media] seem to always have something to say and have a comment. So I love to use those and like serve a little humble pie to you and do a little bit better than what you think.”
There was some speculation that the Panthers’ organization was ready to part ways with Smith Sr. due to his age, however the fiery receiver is coming off a 2013 season where he recorded 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns.
Just how Smith Sr. will be utilized in Gary Kubiak’s offensive system doesn’t matter much to him as long as he is on the field.
“Yes, inside of the white lines. (laughter) If you’re outside the white lines, you’re not lined up,” Smith stated.
“Honestly, [I just enjoy] being on the field at the end of the day. If I’m lined up out wide or in the slot, it doesn’t really matter. I think at my age, you have to be able to be adjustable, and I think a lot of older guys, they get set in their ways and they think and they know, ‘This is the only spot I can play.’ For me, I come in there [and say], ‘Where am I needed?’.
“And wherever I’m needed, I’m going to play that spot well, but I’m going to exceed expectations. I want to be able to play slot, I want to be able to play outside, and so that’s what I want to do.”
For Smith, having the opportunity to play under Gary Kubiak is something that excites him and it was a determining factor in his decision to play for the purple and black.
“I knew coach [John] Harbaugh for a very long time, but when I heard and saw that they were bringing in coach [Gary] Kubiak, I knew. The offense – outside of the players; great quarterback already established, wide receiver group – and the offense was a seller. That was somebody that I wanted to play underneath, because I know how explosive [they are] and what they do and how they play football.”
More importantly Steve is excited to be on the receiving end of quarterback Joe Flacco’s passes.
“I’ve been an admirer of him, even just watching him in college at Delaware and then coming into the draft,” Smith Sr. acknowledged about Flacco.
“You know, as a wide receiver you always kind of look at the quarterbacks in the draft every year to see which guys [have potential] and what they say about whom.
“One thing about him that I noticed, just coming out of college – how I evaluate a quarterback – is if he’s on the other hash and you run a comeback, where’s your ball placement? Is the ball hitting the guy at the ankles, or is he hitting him in the chest? Far a hash, 20-yard comeback, it’s pretty close. The number is high, so that’s always a good telltale sign of a good quarterback.”
While it is still early in the offseason programs, the rapport Smith Sr. is building with Flacco and his teammates was on display for all to see on Thursday.
It remains to be seen just how much of an impact Smith will have once September rolls around, but having a proven veteran like him once again in the wide receiver corp is vital for such a young unit.
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