We don’t know of anybody out there who is doubting whether or not Steve Smith can come back from his Achilles injury at age 37. But if anybody is, Smith launched some strong words in their direction on Thursday.
“I felt like I let those guys down in the locker room,” the Baltimore Ravens receiver said. “So for me to come back and play, it’s to show them that I am dependable and they can depend on me. And to show you jackasses that at 37 years old, I can still play. And I’m sick of y’all telling how can you depend on a 37-year-old to play this game after a ruptured Achilles.”
Anyone who is actually doubting Smith hasn’t been paying attention, as he caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards in 2014 and was on pace for a 105-catch season before getting injured in 2015. There is a good chance that Smith’s rant was merely an effort to motivate himself, or even more likely, spoken for entertainment value.
Smith has passed his physical this week and is expected to be back in practices soon. With his presence comes a swagger that the team otherwise lacks. Smith has always been brash, and he remains as brash as ever. The Ravens need that. They need his production on the field, of course, especially with Breshad Perriman still out of action. But they also need his spirit, which can be contagious.
In a way, Smith is like an NFL version of Gary Payton, the great NBA point guard, who set a tone with his swagger, trash talk and attitude, and more importantly always backed it up in games.
Smith made a point on Thursday to stress just how hard he has worked to get back onto the field, saying that while “y’all sitting around twiddling your thumbs I was sitting there four or five days a week for nine months trying to rehab to get back on the field.”
He said he intends to give everything he has got for the organization and teammates who have invested in him and believed in him. “So this is just a chance for me to say thank you to them, finish what an organization allowed me to start.”
And if any defensive backs have thoughts about stopping him, Smith has some words for them, too.
“I’m not in this business to make friends,” he said. “So if you’re not in the same jersey as me, I plan to rip you to shreds, bottom line.
“The bully’s back. That’s all I’ve got to say. Vacation is over for the DBs.”
We doubt that’s all Smith has to say. In fact, we hope that’s not the case. You’ve got to love the mouth because it never says anything that the body doesn’t back up on the field. And the Ravens have to be excited to hear Smith talk that way, because you know he wouldn’t say he was going to rip DBs “to shreds” if he didn’t plan to do just that.
The bully is back, and so is the mouth, and the Ravens will be much better off for it.