You never know what you're going to get when Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith holds court with reporters. After the Ravens' 28-13 victory Sunday over the Miami Dolphins, Smith, who had a strong game with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, provided commentary on a little bit of everything.
First, he was asked what he meant when he told ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden in a production meeting before the Nov. 24 game against the New Orleans Saints that the Ravens had more players with attitudes similar to his than did the Carolina Panthers, his previous team.
"Honestly, what I mean is, when I play here, when I play, we just make plays," Smith said. "It's not blown up out of proportion, it's not minimized. That's my job, bottom line. And I go out there and do my job. On a run play, I got into [it] a little bit with a guy while I was blocking him. He didn't like the way he was getting blocked. There's no big ol' focus on the sidelines, there's no nonsense. It's just ball."
Smith then addressed another question about his feelings toward the Panthers, who cut him in March, after he had set various offensive records and been selected to the Pro Bowl five times in Carolina.
“At the end of the day, it’s kind of fickle because every time I say something — first of all, people think that’s all that’s on my mind, is that team. And it’s not,” Smith said. “People ask me questions, and, for the most part, I try to avoid them. But at the end of the day, I enjoy being where I am. I enjoy being a Raven. I have been accepted for being a Raven, for who I am. That’s who I want to be. At some point of time in my 13-year career, my time ran out there, and that’s what happened. Now my time is here. And that’s what I’m enjoying, my time here. Whatever people have to leak [to the media] or say, at the end of the day, I’m a Baltimore Raven. That’s all I care about.”
Smith explained how much he appreciates that the Ravens want him to be himself.
“Ask the coach. They enjoy the way I play,” Smith said. “They ask me to come down and block the safeties, and I put the safeties on their backs. I come down — they ask me to block a linebacker — I put a linebacker on his back. They ask me to block and run, and I do that. They appreciate it. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter. They know when they need a big block or big play, they come to me.”
Smith finished up by taking a couple of playful jabs at NFL talent evaluators. It's well known that Smith, a former third-round draft pick, still draws motivation from some of the criticism he received early in his career. This time, his shots came in response to a question about running back Justin Forsett, who had considered retiring from football before the Ravens signed him this offseason.
"That's the great thing about sports. You can scout a player, you can write a write-up on a player, but that player gets to do what you can't do. He gets to act it out. Guys get to act it out and do it, and that's the fantastic part," Smith said, just getting started.
"I think sometimes we get so enamored with evaluations. We get mock drafts or [NFL Network draft analyst Mike] Mayock or this guy or that guy. Mayock, [ESPN NFL draft analyst] Mel Kiper [Jr.], you get all these guys with their slick hairdos and their ballpoint pens, and they evaluate a guy. But at the end of the day, just because a guy walks through the door and looks like Tarzan, sometimes he plays like Jane. You can evaluate how good of a player is by watching him. You've got to see what he can do. And Justin Forsett is one of those guys. He's a formula breaker."