Growing up in California, undrafted rookie wide receiver DeAndre Carter idolized Ravens five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith and patterned his game after him.
Carter -- 5 feet 8, 185 pounds -- saw a kindred spirit in Smith, a feisty, similarly-undersized wide receiver.
"Steve Smith kind of paved a path for shorter receivers in the league," Carter told The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday as the Ravens prepared to begin their first organized team activity. "He plays with a chip on his shoulder. I liked his game, like the way he plays and model my game after him."
Carter went undrafted despite a prolific career at Sacramento State, where he earned All-American honors last season when he led all Football Championship Subdivsion schools with 99 catches for 1,321 yards and a school-record 17 touchdowns.
"I always play with a chip on my shoulder," Carter said. "I come from a small school and people say I'm undersized. Personally, I feel like I should have been drafted.
"I want to go out and prove to everyone who passed on me that they missed out. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder."
Carter chose the Ravens over competing offers from the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens gave Carter a $7,500 signing bonus as part of his three-year contract.
"The coaches really wanted me here," Carter said. "They told me I would have a pretty good chance. I definitely like it here so far. I'm looking forward to spending my career here. Everything is going really smooth. The rookie minicamp went really well and I showed a lot of good things.
"My biggest thing is learning the playbook and playing fast. I've got it down pretty well and I'm able to interpret and understand the schemes. I played really well and caught some balls. I need to keep building on that in the organized team activities."
For Carter to climb the depth chart and earn a roster spot, he'll need to excel at more than wide receiver. Special teams are the likely path to making the team for Carter, who returned kicks during the Ravens' rookie minicamp.
Carter returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown last season and averaged 23.7 yards on kickoff returns for his career and 12.5 yards per punt return.
"It will probably be a big factor in me making the team," Carter said. "Not just returns, but also being a gunner on punts and running down on kickoffs. Being able to come in and show my ability in that area of the game, hopefully I can get some big plays off in the preseason and help me cement a spot on the team."
Carter has athleticism working in his favor. At his Pro Day workout, Carter ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash and had an impressive 3.8-second short shuttle and a 6.64-second three-cone drill. He also had a 38 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 10-6 broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 16 times.
Carter made an impression on Ravens coach John Harbaugh during the Ravens' rookie minicamp.
"DeAndre's done a good job," Harbaugh said. "He's done a really nice job as a receiver and he's looked good as a punt returner. He's had some experience with that in college, so that's a plus."
An All-Big Sky Conference selection who finished his career with 207 catches for 2,760 yards and 35 touchdowns, Carter met with the Ravens during the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game.
"For me, it's about paying attention to details and making sure I'm on top of different details and basically go out there and make a play," Carter said. "Especially when the vets get out there, you want to make a play against someone who's been there. That makes you look a little better. You want to work on technique and make plays when my number is called."
Carter says he plans to pick Smith's brain for advice on how to make the Ravens' 53-man roster.
"I talked to him a little bit and got to know him a little bit," Carter said. "I look forward to talking with him more as time goes on. He said he would help me out."