Two years ago, the Ravens went into St. Louis for a preseason game preparing to start Troy Smith at quarterback.
With Kyle Boller dealing with a shoulder injury and then-rookie Joe Flacco seemingly too inexperienced to take the first-team reps, Smith had a huge opportunity in front of him.
If he could play well against the Rams, Smith hoped to show the Ravens' coaches that their best option would be having him start the season under center while letting their rookie first-round pick learn from the bench.
But things didn't go as Smith had planned. He came down with a severe case of tonsillitis a couple days before the Rams game and was unable to play. By the time he got healthy and was cleared to return to practice, Flacco had established himself as the Ravens' starter under center and Smith was relegated to clipboard duty.
Tomorrow, when Smith goes into St. Louis to face the Rams in the Ravens' preseason finale, the circumstances will be far different than they were two years ago.
Flacco is the clear-cut starter, veteran Marc Bulger is the Ravens' new backup, and Smith is stuck trying to earn a spot on the 53-man roster as a third quarterback.
But Smith says he hasn't played the "What-If?" game. He hasn't wondered if things might have turned out differently if he had a chance to play against the Rams back in 2008.
"No, I'm good," Smith said yesterday. "I didn't get a chance to be a part of that - what happened back then - and things happen for a reason. Now, it's a whole new year, a whole different mindset, and we're just moving forward."
Smith was expected to get the majority of the reps in St. Louis two years ago, and he's expected to get the bulk of the reps today as well. With Flacco not playing and Bulger likely seeing just a series or two at most, Smith could have nearly the full four quarters to make one final statement to the coaches and members of the Ravens' front office.
It's a chance for the former Heisman trophy winner to prove that he's worthy of keeping around. But Smith insists he isn't looking at it that way.
"I've said this time and time again: I'm not in this business to try to show anybody anything," Smith said. "As a person, as a man, I think once you get into vendettas with other people, then things don't happen the way that you want them to. As a quarterback and as a man, I know what I need to do and to achieve, and I'm fine with that."
The Ravens will have a tough decision over the next few days as they try and determine whether it's worth keeping Smith on their active roster despite having two healthy, proven quarterbacks in Flacco and Bulger.
Smith had a rocky training camp, sailing passes over the heads of receivers and looking like he was trying to force things at times. But for the most part, through the first three preseason games, Smith has looked good.
He went 8-of-11 for 71 yards and a touchdown on Saturday against the Giants, ending the night with an impressive quarterback rating of 119.9. He also added a rushing touchdown in the preseason opener against the Panthers.
But is that enough to keep the four-year veteran around past Saturday's final cuts?
"Troy's a good player," head coach John Harbaugh said this week. "The thing we have to decide across the board is who are the best 53 players we have. But, Troy is our third quarterback. Obviously, he's played very well in the preseason; I think he makes plays. He does bring a unique ability. He gets out of trouble and makes plays with his feet and with his arms. We've always liked Troy. He's a good player."
A number of coaches are fond of Smith, and he's a very popular guy in the Ravens' locker room. But there's a distinct possibility that tomorrow's game against the Rams could be Smith's last in a Ravens jersey.
Smith understands that. And he knows that there's a chance his turbulent career in Baltimore - one which featured two starts his rookie season, multiple trade requests, and the "Suggs Package" - could end in the next few days.
"That's the nature of the beast," Smith said. "At this level, it's about competing. Not everybody that you slap fives with is going to be your teammate. You have that understanding, and that's just the way it is.
"It's a business, first and foremost. You can't do anything about that. The only thing that you can control and have an effect on is what you do on a daily basis. I continuously get myself together as a player and as a man and as a quarterback, and that's what I worry about."