Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees has offered some succinct advice to his defensive backs in the past about how to deal with veteran wide receiver Steve Smith.
It consists primarily of making sure they didn't anger the feisty five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.
"The first thing I told the [defensive backs] is, 'Look, don't get him mad,'" Pees said Tuesday following organized team activities. "He plays a lot harder when he's mad. Leave him alone, let sleeping dogs lie. He's a heck of a player. He's made some grabs out here. He's a tough guy. He's everything advertised. I'm glad he's on our team."
That's been the general consensus on Smith since the Ravens signed him to a three-year, $11 million contract in March that included a $3.5 million signing bonus.
Known for his outspoken personality and tendency to approach even a routine practice with the intensity of a high-stakes game, Smith has been encouraged to be himself ever since joining the roster.
"Boy, I watched him today, and I'll tell you it was his best day with me out here," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said of Smith. "It's just because each day he's getting more comfortable with what we're doing. He's just so competitive. He brings an edge to practice all the time. He challenges people as far as how you play, how you go about doing things.
"He challenged coaches, too. Every good offense that I've been around has had a few of those guys saying, 'Get me the ball, coach.' And that's a good thing. That's what you want. He works to get the ball, so that's what's impressive to me."
Smith was cut by the Carolina Panthers in March after he dipped to 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns last season during his final year with the NFC South franchise. He has 857 career receptions for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns.
At 35 years old, Smith is obviously no longer as fast as he was when he entered the league. However, he's still clearly strong, powerful and elusive after the catch.
"Steve Smith, I could use some adjectives," Pees said. "He is a pain, in a good way."
By signing Smith, the Ravens hope they've regained the toughness and experience they lost when they traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers last year following a contract dispute.
"You can definitely see the fire," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "I've known Steve for a couple of years now, but to actually play with him and see the way he works, he takes everything serious. He's very passionate. I guess if you're not used to a guy who's passionate about his job, it comes off as raunchy, but it fits here. There are plenty of guys like that here. He's perfect for us, and we're glad he's here."
Steve Smith has eschewed comparisons to Boldin, who had more of a low-key personality around the Ravens' training complex when he was on the team.
One thing they have in common, though, is a perfectionist nature when it comes to football.
"He's always pulling me aside, telling me something even if I already knew it," Torrey Smith said. "He'll tell you, 'Man, I'm going to be on you. You can never be good enough. And I appreciate that.
"I've been lucky. I've been able to play the game around two of the best wide receivers in the past 15 years, just to play around two great vets like that. And Steve is completely different than Anquan. I'm picking his brain and learning, and he's a great teacher as well."
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