Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith doesn’t see the leadership void that retired linebacker Ray Lewis said exists now that he and safety Ed Reed are no longer on the team.
Now an ESPN analyst, Lewis questioned the Ravens' leadership for the second time this month with his latest comments during the network's pregame show Monday night hours after reports emerged that Pro Bowl kick returner Jacoby Jones had been struck in the head with a bottle on a party bus at 3 a.m. Monday morning while celebrating offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie’s 34th birthday. The altercation didn't lead to any serious injuries or arrests.
“We have great leadership, so to say because of one incident, that it’s a leadership issue, to me, is a joke because everyone is not going to always be around and incidents happen,” Smith told The Baltimore Sun while participating in a Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake construction project in Baltimore. “Stuff happens in the locker room, stuff happens in the spur of the moment. Now, if it happens every week, all the time, then that’s a problem. For one incident to happen and say it’s a leadership issue when most of the team wasn’t there, it’s an overreaction.
“It’s only bad because someone went and ran to TMZ. If no one knew, it wouldn’t be an issue. We would resolve it in the locker room. It’s resolved anyways. We just have to deal with the questions from the media. I think it’s funny that we’re doing this, building a home, one day after everybody found out about the other thing. We all know it comes with the territory. Everybody is doing a great job.”
Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach broke into laughter when asked whether the Ravens lack leadership after Lewis and center Matt Birk retired and Reed joined the Houston Texans this offseason.
“Leadership on our team is good,” Leach said. “I don’t think necessarily there’s a question about our leadership. It’s bad publicity, but no one got hurt or arrested. It could have been worse. Things happen. It’s all right.”
Lewis has been critical of the Ravens in his new role as an analyst. He discussed the Ravens' off-field situation Monday night prior to the Denver Broncos’ win over the Oakland Raiders, one day after being inducted into the Ravens' Ring of Honor at halftime of a 30-9 win over the Houston Texans.
“We talk about the transition of losing so many guys, a guy like myself and Ed Reed and other guys that are based off leadership. I've said it earlier: 'Where would the leadership come from?'“ Lewis said. “Because the leadership being strong in the locker room and winning games. Listen, talent sometimes can win you games. But when you talk about what's going on off the field, that's the most important place where leadership steps up.
“When you think about the Baltimore Ravens and the transition that they went through, they're missing leadership right now. When you have an incident like that, the first thing a leader is going to do is find some way to dissolve everything that's going on and actually dissolve it before it comes to that type of head or even gets to that point. When you talk about the Baltimore Ravens they're going to have to refocus and find some quick leaders in that locker room very quickly.”
Wearing hard hats and using hammers and electric drills, Smith and several other players players spent Tuesday morning building a house for a family in the Pigtown community.
Joining Leach was Smith, strong safety James Ihedigbo, quarterback Tyrod Taylor, center Gino Gradkowski and rookie defensive tackle Brandon Williams.
“This is a cool opportunity to come out and help our community, our fans,” Gradkowski said. “This is what it’s all about. This is all around the NFL, guys are helping out every single day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get the publicity it deserves.
“I think we have a lot of good veterans, a lot of good leaders on this team. I’m not worried about that at all.”
Through the joint contributions of the Ravens and Habitat for Humanity, 18 homes are being built for qualified families in Pigtown.
“It’s important to get out in the community and show the fans a different aspect of who we are,” Leach said. “We’ve got a lot of great guys here, a lot of guys who don’t do it for recognition, just do it for the goodness of the heart.”
twitter.com/RavensInsiderCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun