On Wednesday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco called Torrey Smith a “great friend.” He said he’s kept track of the former Ravens wide receiver since his departure from Baltimore after the 2014 season, from the San Francisco 49ers to the Philadelphia Eagles to, now, the Carolina Panthers. But Flacco said he hoped the memory he’d make Sunday against his old teammate would be a good one.
Smith is powerless to stop him, or the Ravens. On Friday, the first-year Panthers receiver was ruled out of Sunday’s game because of a knee injury that sidelined him at practice all week. Smith, who didn’t miss any of the 64 games in his Ravens career, is second among Carolina receivers with 16 receptions and two touchdowns.
That means more snaps — more pressure, too — for fellow Maryland product DJ Moore, the first receiver taken in the 2018 NFL draft.
“It’s his opportunity to increase, and he’s made plays,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in a conference call with Baltimore-area reporters this week, before Smith was ruled out. “So the more and more chances he gets on the field, the better. A lot of it has to do with just learning. He’s done a great job of learning. It’s just so much volume for these young guys to try to get used to. But he’s done a great job, and every time he’s on the field, like I said, he makes things happen.”
After making just two catches over Carolina’s first three games, Moore has since turned all but three of his 14 targets from quarterback Cam Newton into receptions. In his Week 6 return to Prince George’s County, he fumbled twice in a loss to the Washington Redskins, but nonetheless leads the team in yards per catch (14.7) and ranks third in receiving yards (191).
“Once he catches the ball, he becomes a definite threat running it,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said Thursday. “He has a lot of talent. We have to make sure to try to staple him to the ground, because he’s really good after the catch.”