Nearly a week after his collision with Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le'veon Bell, cornerback Jimmy Smith was able to smile about it in the Ravens' locker room.
Smith has been cleared under the NFL concussion testing protocol and is set to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Smith was feeling well shortly after a tackle that forced both players out of the game and rendered Bell, a 6-foot-1, 244-pounder, briefly unconscious and with little memory of a hit that knocked off his helmet. Bell was a full participant in practice Thursday and has said he's passed all of his concussion tests.
"I wasn't knocked out completely cold, so I didn't have as bad as what the other guy did," said Smith, who was limited in practice Wednesday. "I feel fine. He hit his head on the ground pretty hard. He's a huge back. It wasn't like I went out there unscathed. He's a big back."
A 2011 first-round draft pick, Smith has had a strong year in his third NFL season, recording 45 tackles, one interception and 11 pass deflections with one forced fumble.
"I'm proud of the progress I've made years one through three," Smith said. "Nobody else will comment on the first two years, but, for me, I see exactly how it was going along the whole time. I'm very proud of where I'm at. Obviously, I'm still a work in progres. I still got to do a whole lot of things, get more turnovers, but i'm proud of what I've done so far.
Smith said the game is slowing down for him as his understanding of routes and defenses continues to improve.
"There's a lot of truth to that," Smith said. "Once you get comfortable in the defense, the game does slow down. Everybody is fast, but once you understand what's going on mentally, it slows down, not necessarily the physical aspect of it."