But the Ravens already had their inactive list set, so Smith figured that the very least, he could serve as a decoy and give his fellow wide receivers the occasional break on a relatively hot day in South Florida.
"Basically, I kind of knew going in that I wasn't going to be able to play the whole game," Smith said. "But being able to go in and spell the guys for a little bit and help them get through the heat … they did a great job."
Smith played a couple drives in the first half but otherwise spent the majority of the Ravens' 28-13 victory over the Dolphins on the sidelines, rooting on his teammates. After having seven touchdowns over his previous seven games, Smith not only didn't catch a pass against the Dolphins but he wasn't even targeted by quarterback Joe Flacco.
"We worked him out pregame [and] he looked pretty good," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Smith. "Then we came out pregame, right before the game and his knee swelled up and it really tightened up on him. We had already activated him, so then he really couldn't go."
Smith, who had his right knee wrapped, said his leg felt fine once he got into his route. But it was tough for him to get going.
"It didn't feel good from the get go," Smith said. "It was more so my pain tolerance. It obviously was hurting when I was running, but when my coaches and my teammates watched, they were like, 'You don't look like you're running slow.' When I'd be full speed, it was fine. But walking around and getting to that point was a problem."
After hurting his knee late in the Nov. 30 loss to the San Diego Chargers, Smith -- who hasn't missed a game in his NFL career -- said he wanted to give it a try because the Ravens needed a win to bolster their playoff chances.
"I wanted to be part of this," Smith said. "It was like a playoff game. You lose, you go home. That's the kind of feeling we had. I wanted to make sure I put my best foot forward for the team."
Smith said it was "awesome" to see how his teammates picked up the slack in his absence.
The Ravens play the 2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars at home next Sunday and it wouldn't be shocking for Harbaugh to hold Smith out to try and get him healthy for the stretch run. But Smith was adamant that he wants to play.
"You have to take it one day at a time, but if I had my way, I'll be out there Sunday," Smith said. "We'll see."