By Matt Vensel
3:15 PM EDT, April 23, 2013
Ray Rice was one of three Ravens who took a break from the team’s offseason workout program Tuesday to chat with reporters. He appeared to be wearing black pajama pants, so maybe a nap was next on his agenda.
Before he took off, he was asked about Torrey Smith, who is expected to be the team’s top receiver in 2013.
In his second NFL season, Smith caught 49 passes for 855 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns. His 17.4 yards-per-catch average was among the highest in the league in 2012. In the playoffs, he added 11 catches for 233 yards and had touchdowns receptions of 59 and 32 yards in the AFC divisional round win in Denver.
But on Tuesday, he hyped Smith as a “complete” wide receiver.
“I’ve seen Torrey Smith get scouted as a guy that just goes deep,” Rice, now an elder statesman, said. “That’s what the scouting report was: ‘Let’s defend the deep ball.’ But, then I’ve seen Torrey Smith run intermediate routes. I’ve seen Torrey Smith line up in the slot. That’s what you call a complete No. 1 receiver.”
With Anquan Boldin now in San Francisco, Smith will be treated as such by defenses, though he often saw deep safety help shaded toward his side of the field out of respect for his sprinter speed.
Rice said that Smith benefited from watching Boldin, the team’s leading receiver in 2012, for two years and took “pieces” of his game “and put them all together” to become that complete receiver.
He raved about Smith’s work ethic, saying that he has trouble keeping up with the 24-year-old whenever they train together. Smith is always the first to do something and he always competes.
With Boldin gone, the Ravens will need Smith to step up and take charge on the field. Besides Jacoby Jones, the Ravens don’t have much experience at wide receiver. They do have youth and ability, though, and they hope Tandon Doss, David Reed, Deonte Thompson, and Tommy Streeter will also take steps forward this offseason. The team could also draft a wide receiver this weekend.
Smith profiles as the new go-to guy, though, and Rice certainly seems to think Smith is up for that challenge in Year Three.
“Now, we have to find the rest of our guys to kind of mold around him,” Rice said before walking off in his black pajama pants.
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