As the former Heisman Trophy winner starts against the St. Louis Rams tonight at the Edward Jones Dome, his command of the huddle and mobility are the primary factors for why he could remain under center when the regular season opens. He’s slated to play the majority of the game, and a convincing performance could end the competition.
Smith definitely has the support of the locker room.
"He believes in himself and he makes other people believe in him, too. If he messes up, he doesn’t worry about it. He goes on to the next play and tries to make it right."
Confidence and leadership are paramount attributes for Smith, a former
Now, Smith is getting a major opportunity to take over the position.
"It’s been written a couple of times that last week was my best chance, so obviously you guys have better insight than I do," Smith said. "Chances are going to come, opportunities are going to come. I have to make the most of them.
"I can’t say it’s pressure. I’m kind of hard on myself. As a quarterback, you put yourself and your team into situations where the crucial decisions that you make shape the game."
"It means a lot," Smith said. "You step into a game, and I’d be a liar if I told you that everybody agrees with every play call. But as a quarterback you have to have an understanding that every play call could be that play that breaks the game open."
His quarterback rating is 41.1, which ranks at the bottom of the Ravens’ quarterbacks.
Smith completed 3 of 5 passes for 25 yards against the Vikings, throwing an interception when his slant pass to Mark Clayton was delivered slightly behind the wide receiver.
"He played well, he’s been playing well all camp as well as the other guys," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "For him to get the nod for this game, it’s not surprising."
The coaching staff has witnessed a lot of subtle improvement from Smith, even if it hasn’t manifested itself on a consistent basis during the preseason or during an occasionally erratic training camp.
"I think it’s steady across the board," Harbaugh said. "He’s throwing more accurately, there’s no question about it. He’s handling the offense. He’s making the calls in the huddle.
Last season, Smith completed 52 percent of his passes in three games. Starting the final two games with Steve McNair and Boller injured, he completed 32 of 60 passes for 370 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Harbaugh was noncommittal on whether a good game will conclude the competition in Smith’s favor.