Smith played a massive role in Baltimore’s record-setting 48-17 dismantling of the Jaguars on Thursday in what will amount to a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Although Joe Flacco connected with nine different receivers, the fact that he targeted Smith 11 times shows just how open the University of Maryland grad was getting.
A week ago, LaQuan Williams seemed to be doing a bit of the same by getting open and drawing passes from Flacco. But he didn’t produce the way Smith can - and did. Smith made eight catches for 103 yards against Jacksonville and now has totaled a team-high 11 grabs for 146 yards in his two preseason appearances.
“He gets better every day,” coach John Harbaugh said of Smith. “He’s the kind of guy that just comes to work every single day. Nothing stands between him and getting better. He’s just always been that way. I think he sets a great tempo with Anquan (Boldin) for our wide receiver group and our offense.
“I think he’s on the way to becoming a complete receiver. He’ll probably tell you that he’s a long way off. It’s probably closer than he would admit, but that’s the kind of mentality he takes all the time.”
Smith might not be too experienced, but it seems like he already has corners backing up on him, respecting the deep threat he poses.
“It definitely benefits me a lot because there is so much that opens up, the underneath routes,” Smith said. “I understand that’s a part of the process, and that’s why I’ve got to continue to work on everything, get better at everything. It’s kind of tough on them, having to respect going deep and underneath routes.”
There were a few instances where Smith came limping to the sidelines, perhaps still limited by his ankle, and he said receivers coach Jim Hostler gave him the hardest time of anyone.
“He (said), ‘You’re full of drama, limping,’ ” Smith said. “I come to the sidelines and he’s like, ‘You’re done.’ Done? I’m all right. I just need to walk it off real quick. Coming back in, I was excited to get back out there.”
Smith’s performance came as part of the highest points total ever produced by the Ravens in a preseason game, breaking the team’s 2001 mark of 38 against the New York Giants.
The first-team offense left with a 20-3 lead in an impressive warm-up for the opener, considering starters won’t likely see much action next week. The second and third teams combined for the last 28 points with backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor having a much-improved showing.
Taylor went 7-for-9 for 139 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score. Curtis Painter completed all three of his attempts, including a late 33-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Streeter.
Flacco was thrilled to see the first team finish in the red zone after scoring just one touchdown over the first two preseason contests.
“I think we did a good job overall. There was still one drive early where I wish we would have put the ball in,” Flacco said. “I think we had a couple opportunities where we just didn’t get it done, and ended up settling for a field goal. But other than that, I think we did a good job and I think if this was a regular season game, we would have come out feeling pretty good about it.”
In other news, the Ravens lost a few players to injury in the contest, the most significant being third-year safety Emanuel Cook, who Harbaugh called one of his favorites. Cook broke his right leg and has likely been lost for the season.
Safety Sean Considine also suffered a concussion and cornerback Corey Graham absorbed a stinger.