Steve Smith's 14th NFL season has been eye-opening for the 35-year-old, given that the Panthers organization was all he had ever known. But each game seems to bring Smith flashbacks to an earlier phase of his career, and that's the case again as the Ravens (7-4) prepare to face the Chargers (7-4) on Sunday in a key game at M&T Bank Stadium.
When Dean Pees and the Ravens defense watched tape of their Week 2 win over the Cleveland Browns, they saw Brandon Weeden at quarterback and Trent Richardson carrying the load at running back. Wide receiver Josh Gordon was nowhere to be found as he was serving his four-game league suspension.
The former Mississippi basketball standout, who just six weeks ago played in the NCAA tournament, was awkwardly hunched over with one hand on the ground, learning the proper way to stand in a three-point stance thanks to some hands-on, one-on-one coaching from Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
On Sunday, it appeared the Chiefs¿ offensive strategy was to shoot themselves in the foot. They turned the ball over six times, including four times in the first half. Despite falling behind early, they were relatively balanced, giving the ball to speedy running back Jamaal Charles and throwing the ball all over the field, often times to physical wideout Dwayne Bowe.
The Ravens' Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are out to prove they can be as effective as the Patriots' tight ends. Baltimore's second-year tandem has played well but hasn't matched the production of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.