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Steve Smith acknowledges nerves, excitement entering first Ravens preseason game

Steve Smith hasn't altered his routine, or his trademark feisty style.

The 35-year-old wide receiver still celebrates touchdowns by spinning the football, doesn't back down an inch in practice scuffles and has regularly dominated cornerbacks since joining the Ravens in March via a three-year, $11 million contract.

The five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver acknowledged some nervousness and excitement heading into his preseason debut with his new football team Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium.

"It's kind of nervous a little bit, new situation, new surroundings, but it's still football," Smith said.

Smith says he's still adjusting to the Ravens' offense even though his transition has apoeared relatively seamless.

"Some things still kind of get me," Smith said. "Overall, I think I can do a few things better, be more fluid, be more consistent in some other areas. I'm still learning overall. It's not that bad. You're always trying to improve, always trying to get better, try to minimize the mistakes.

"The last time I was in a West Coast offense was 13 years ago my rookie year. I'm a little backwards on some things, but I think overall it will be fine. ... I'm a blind dog in a meathouse. I'm just feeling my way through."

Smith is coming off one of his least productive seasons, catching 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns last year before being released by the Carolina Panthers in March.

Keyshawn Johnson, a former NFL wide receiver and current ESPN NFL analyst who played one season with Smith with the Panthers in 2006 prior to retiring, predicts Smith will quickly find success with the Ravens.

"I think it's going to be a great fit," Johnson said during a recent telephone interview. "Steve is going to have an opinionated voice about what should be done. I think he's going to be a good talent and help the team in the passing game and running game. I'm excited to see him get going. I think it's going to be a great fit because Steve is a different type of feisty. I always call it the little man syndrome, but it's a good thing for him.

"I know him well. It's all about, 'I'm smaller than you, so I'm going to be feisty, and I'm still trying to prove you stupid general managers [messed] up. You guys judge talent, so you should have been able to judge me right.' He takes things personally."

Told of Johnson's comments, Smith replied: "I'll take that, that's good. He played the game. He knows."

awilson@baltsun.com

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