Despite slow start, Ravens should give Torrey Smith a new deal

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.
Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

The offseason negotiations between the Ravens and receiver Torrey Smith will be intriguing.

Smith is a free agent at the end of this season and probably could demand a lucrative, long-term contract if he produced big numbers.


But Smith has just 18 catches for 308 yards and four touchdowns so far this year. Those numbers don't give him much leverage at the bargaining table.

His role is increasing every week, but his final statistics shouldn't impact negotiations.


In reality, Smith is a good No. 2 receiver, certainly not in the class with top receivers Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys or Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. Smith needs to improve his route running, and lacks that fiery, nasty attitude that most top receivers possess.

But because he has speed, Smith draws attention. He is a home-run hitter who forces defensive coordinators to know where he is on the field at all times.

Smith leads the league in drawing pass interference penalties, which is a statement in itself. The Ravens could get more out of him if they used him in motion so he could get off the line cleanly instead of being tied up by bigger, stronger defensive backs in press coverage.

But the Ravens need to get him re-signed. Smith has been a leader on the field as well as in the community. He may not warrant the contract of a top-flight receiver, but he is better than most No. 2s and deserves to be paid as such.


It's personal for receivers

The Ravens receivers will want to have a big game in Cincinnati on Sunday.

It's not just because it's a division game and the winner will be in first place in the AFC North, but they played poorly against the Bengals in a season-opening loss. The Ravens dropped seven passes in that game, four by Steve Smith. Torrey Smith blew some chances as well.

"We were the reason why we didn't get it done," Torrey Smith said. "We need to go out there and play the game. I'm not saying this is personal, like it's any different than any other game, but it's important for us to show up."

Agreed, and it is personal.

Suggs, Dumervil need to show up

The Ravens defense has improved during the past two weeks, and they are getting good pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially from outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

But let's see this against good teams, not NFL scrubs. After losses to Cincinnati and Indianapolis earlier this season, the most pressing questions were where were Suggs and Dumervil?

It's time the big boys showed up against the big boys.

"It still doesn't feel like it," Suggs said of being in a groove. "Like last year, we felt like we were in a groove, and then everybody knows about the skid down the stretch. You want to keep going, you always want to keep the momentum going, and like I said, we're 5-2 right now and that's a great thing and we want to work on being 6-2."

McPhee stepping up

I like the big curve ball the Ravens can deliver in games.

Opposing centers and guards have to block those big ox defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams on run plays, but then the Ravens bring in the giant rabbit, Pernell McPhee, for them to chase around on passing situations.

The Ravens haven't had an inside player who could collapse a pocket since Sam Adams in 2000.

"He's our specialist. A guy who's that size, [with] that quickness, to be able to go inside, outside. I mean, he's a special player. I've never been around a guy like that before," Dumervil said.

Harbaugh lets coaches coach

One of the best things about coach John Harbaugh is that he isn't concerned about his assistant coaches getting credit. A lot of coaches would let egos get in the way, especially when a team brings in a high-profile assistant like offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, but Harbaugh hasn't shown any resentment.

He'll mettle occasionally just to become more acquainted with what is going on, but he allows both Kubiak and defensive coordinator Dean Pees freedom to make their own moves.

Some mistake that as a sign of weakness, but it's really strength.

Two-team race in AFC North

I thought the Cleveland Browns were at the point where they might make a little noise in the AFC North, but then they lost to the winless Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

The division is now a two-team race with the Ravens and the Bengals.

The Pittsburgh Steelers?

The Steelers always seem to have lives, but I declared them dead about two weeks ago. As for the Seattle Seahawks, the defending champs are 3-3. but they will be around in crunch time at the end along with the Denver Broncos.

In Detroit, you feel happy for former Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and what he has done as the new coach of the Lions. More than anything else, Caldwell always seemed to be a good and honorable man.

Daryl Smith all over the field

The defensive player who quietly had a good game Sunday was inside linebacker Daryl Smith.

He finished with 13 tackles, knocked down a pass, hit Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan once and moved him two other times.

Unfortunately, the other linebackers get more notice, but he was all over the field.