AFC North: Steve Smith

When Andre Johnson is likely released by the Houston Texans, the Baltimore Ravens should immediately show interest in the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. It's just a matter of whether the feeling would be mutual.

Johnson makes sense for the Ravens because of their need at wide receiver if Torrey Smith can't be re-signed and their successful history with aging receivers, from Derrick Mason to Anquan Boldin to Steve Smith Sr. He would represent the first step in the Ravens' offseason makeover of the wide receiver position.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThere are plenty of reasons to think Andre Johnson could fit in well with the Ravens' offense.
So what are the chances Johnson eventually lands with the Ravens? The odds appear good but not great. There are plenty of reasons you can envision Johnson catching touchdown passes from Joe Flacco, but there are going to be plenty of teams interested in a receiver who has caught at least 85 passes in six of the past seven seasons.

The Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are potential suitors for Johnson, and like the Ravens, they can all offer him a shot at winning a Super Bowl. The Colts and Seahawks, both of whom currently have over $25 million in salary-cap space, can offer Johnson more money than the Ravens. And the Colts can offer him two opportunities a year at getting payback with the Texans because both teams are in the AFC South.

This is why the Ravens should be considered candidates to get Johnson, although certainly not the favorites. The Ravens would have to go after Johnson with the same aggressiveness they showed last offseason with Steve Smith. But the Ravens don't have the cap room to outbid teams.

Johnson is the type of good-sized receiver (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) that the Ravens and new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman need. Johnson would seem to be an ideal fit based on how Trestman used two big playmaking targets (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) in Chicago.

And unlike a receiver like Marshall (who could also become available), Johnson brings strong hands, toughness, leadership and consistency. Among players with 100 games played, Johnson's average of six catches per game is the highest in NFL history.

Johnson has shown signs of slowing down. His yards per catch has declined each of the past three seasons, and his 11 yards per catch last season was his lowest since 2005. He averaged 62.4 receiving yards per game last season, his least since 2005 and 25 yards less than his 2013 average.

But the Ravens are probably looking at Johnson to be their No. 1 receiver for at least 2015. Owner Steve Bisciotti said the Ravens won't extend themselves financially to keep Torrey Smith, and coach John Harbaugh hinted at reducing Steve Smith's role in 2015 to help keep him from wearing down during the season.

If the Ravens would get Johnson, it would solve their problems only in the short term. The Ravens' top two receivers would be 34 and 36 years old when the season started, increasing the need to draft a receiver. Arizona State's Jaelen Strong and Ohio State's Devin Smith are first-round prospects who could fill Torrey Smith's role as the deep threat and develop into a starter by 2016.

The idea of lining up Johnson, Steve Smith and a playmaking rookie at wide receiver has to be enticing for Flacco and the Ravens. They just have to convince Johnson that his best fit is with the Ravens.
The Baltimore Ravens expect wide receiver Steve Smith to suit up for his 15th season in the NFL.

Smith
Smith, who turns 36 in May, expressed a desire to play in 2015 soon after the divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots last month, but Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome wanted the five-time Pro Bowl player to take a few weeks before making a final decision.

At the NFL combine on Wednesday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Smith remains committed to playing this season.

"I talked to Steve last week, and he's excited," Harbaugh said. "He's planning on being back, and we're planning on having him back. That's a goal of ours. I don't see any reason why that wouldn't happen."

The return of Smith is critical to the Ravens' offense considering their situation at wide receiver. Steve Smith and Torrey Smith are the only two Ravens wide receivers who caught more than 25 passes last season, and Torrey Smith is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10.

Even though Steve Smith faded late in his first season with the Ravens, he still led the team with 79 receptions (30 more than any other Ravens player) and 1,065 yards receiving (nearly 300 more than any Ravens player). It was the most receiving yards in a single season by a player 35 or older since Rod Smith had 1,105 yards in 2005.

Now, the concern for the Ravens could be how Smith is spending his time lately. Harbaugh mentioned that he heard Smith was skiing, which isn't the safest offseason activity.

"We're going to have to talk to him about that," Harbaugh said with a smile. "That's a problem."
The Baltimore Ravens need a Brandon Marshall-type wide receiver. They just don't need Brandon Marshall.

He's selfish. He's a distraction. He's an "exhaustive presence," one Bears teammate told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Marshall, who is under contract with the Bears, created a stir recently when he asked Baltimore coach John Harbaugh about playing for the Ravens during an interview on Showtime's "Inside the NFL." There's no certainty the Bears are going to release Marshall, and ESPN NFL Nation Bears reporter Michael C. Wright believes Marshall should be back in Chicago in 2015.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall is a special talent at wide receiver but also comes with baggage the Ravens would be wise to avoid.
If Marshall does become available, the Ravens shouldn't be interested. Before you picture Marshall catching 100 passes from quarterback Joe Flacco, just imagine him in the same locker room as volatile receiver Steve Smith, who has indicated to the Ravens he wants to play next season. That would make for a good reality television show. It would be a disastrous pairing for a team looking to contend for a Super Bowl.

The idea of Marshall and Smith brings up bad memories of Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens in Cincinnati in 2010, when the Bengals went 4-12. It's difficult to keep two strong personalities at wide receiver happy and not let that affect the entire team. If the Ravens bring in Marshall, they might as well bring in Marshawn Lynch at running back and a psychiatrist for Flacco.

In theory, it makes sense the Ravens should want Marshall. He is the big, physical wide receiver the Ravens need to add to their offense. He was a Pro Bowl receiver in 2013, when current Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman was his coach.

But I'm not buying that Marshall will be in a Ravens uniform in 2015, especially when you consider his past. He has been named in at least eight separate incidents of violence against women since he was drafted in 2006. Even though none of those incidents led to a criminal conviction, the Ravens can't put themselves in that type of situation after a year of dealing with the Ray Rice scandal.

Beyond that, there's a reason why a five-time Pro Bowl receiver has played for three teams. There's a reason why the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins couldn't wait to get rid of him and why the Bears may be thinking the same.

Marshall doesn't crave the spotlight. He's apparently obsessed with it. Last offseason, he signed his contract extension with the Bears on "The View." During the season, he challenged a trash-tweeting Detroit Lions fan to a boxing match and then explained it was part of an anti-bullying campaign.

The drama never ends. After a loss to the Dolphins this past season, Marshall's postgame theatrics in the locker room reportedly included calling out quarterback Jay Cutler and going after kicker Robbie Gould. A week later, Marshall walked off the field for a fourth-and-10 play while trailing the Patriots 45-7 and later responded, "That's wack, bro," when asked if he left because he was hurt, tired or frustrated.

Marshall is the most talented wide receiver the Ravens could get this offseason. The fact that he's had five 100-catch seasons is awfully enticing. It just comes with 100 headaches. The Ravens would essentially be replacing a high-character player in Torrey Smith with a narcissistic one in Marshall. The good teams know the value of chemistry over production. It's not a coincidence Marshall has never played in a postseason game in his nine NFL seasons.

The Ravens need to find a legitimate, young No. 1 wide receiver for Flacco at some point. There comes a time when the Ravens have to stop patching up their wide receiver position with 30-something receivers like Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and Steve Smith. The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have Pro Bowl playmakers in A.J. Green and Antonio Brown. Since 2010, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. have been drafted in the first round and have emerged as the best pass-catchers in the NFL.

Bryant and Thomas could be free agents this offseason, but the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos are expected to put the franchise tag on them. When you're a special talent at wide receiver, teams want to keep you. They don't cut ties like other teams have done with Marshall.

There's no question the Ravens need a playmaker like Marshall. They just need one without the distractions and drama.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens want veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. to take time before deciding whether he wants to return for his 15th NFL season.

Soon after Saturday's AFC divisional playoff loss, Smith posted a message on Instagram that he intended on coming back in 2015. Smith, who will turn 36 in May, also expressed a desire to coach John Harbaugh that he wanted to return.

"One thing that Ozzie [Newsome, Ravens general manager] mentioned to him -- which made a lot of sense -- is to take three weeks," Harbaugh said. "Take three weeks and get a chance to take a nap, figuratively, and kind of decide how you feel."

[+] EnlargeSmith
AP Photo/Darron CummingsSteve Smith led the Ravens with 79 catches and 1,065 yards, but he did fade a bit down the stretch.
In his first season with the Ravens, Smith led the team with 79 catches and 1,065 receiving yards. It was the most receiving yards in a single season by a player 35 or older since Rod Smith had 1,105 yards in 2005.

But Smith did show signs of wearing down during the final two months of the regular season. In the first six games, Smith was the NFL's fifth-leading receiver with 573 yards receiving. In his last nine games, he produced 602 yards receiving, which ranked 40th in the league.

Smith made an impact in the playoffs, but the Ravens hinted at reducing his playing time if he comes back.

"Steve was brimming with enthusiasm last time I talked to him to come back and play a role – whatever role that might be," Harbaugh said. "He doesn’t have to be [in] a role where he’s playing every snap or anything like that, but he looks like he still has plenty left in the tank to me. So, hopefully we can … It’s up to Steve, really, in the end – how he feels and if he thinks he can do it physically.”

Harbaugh said it took time for people in the organization to understand Smith's fiery demeanor. Smith and cornerback Lardarius Webb exchanged shoves during a minicamp practice in June.

Smith told the coach that he felt like he fits in with the Ravens.

"I think that we’re good about that as a group, team and an organization – of taking people where they’re at, trying to look at their heart – and I think everybody felt like, ‘Hey, this guy is a competitor. This guy is a fighter. He’s a battler. He wants to do well and it matters to him,'" Harbaugh said. "And as long as the guys felt that way about him … I know they felt good about him, and they felt that way about him all year. That’s how I feel about him. I think he was a huge addition to our team this year."

Harbaugh then added, "We wouldn’t have had the season we had without Steve Smith on our team this year."
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was loose and insightful during his 31-minute season-ending news conference on Tuesday.

The blog will touch on all of these topics more in depth over the next couple of weeks. Here are the top 10 highlights from Harbaugh's media session:

1. Harbaugh is planning on Gary Kubiak returning as offensive coordinator, although he didn't rule out the possibility of Kubiak leaving. "I'm planning on Gary being back," Harbaugh said Tuesday. "If that changes, we'll deal with it if it comes up. I don't anticipate that changing at this time."

Smith
2. Wide receiver Steve Smith expressed to Harbaugh a desire to come back. But, as a suggestion from general manager Ozzie Newsome, Smith is going to take three weeks to decide how he feels. "Steve was brimming with enthusiasm the last time I talked to him to come back and play a role, whatever role that might be," Harbaugh said. "It doesn't have to be a role where he is playing every snap. He still looks like he has plenty left in the tank to me."

3. The Ravens remain committed to left tackle Eugene Monroe even though he didn't start the AFC divisional playoff game. He wasn't at 100 percent because of an ankle injury. "Eugene is our starter going forward," Harbaugh said. "We're happy to have that be the case."

4. Cornerback Jimmy Smith, who suffered a season-ending foot injury on Oct. 26, is expected to start running in four weeks. "He'll get a chance to get a full offseason in," Harbaugh said.

5. Tight end Dennis Pitta is seeing a couple of specialists about his hip injury. "I will say I'm cautiously optimistic because of the injury," Harbaugh said. "We want to make sure he's totally healthy and totally safe, as much as is reasonable in football to make sure the hip is sound."

Ngata
6. Harbaugh was asked whether the team would like to get an extension done with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. "I think everybody knows the answer to that," Harbaugh said. Ngata carries the team's biggest salary-cap hit in 2015 at $16 million.

7. Harbaugh said he emphasized behavior before the players cleaned out their lockers after enduring an offseason in which five players were arrested. "I think the threshold of tolerance has changed without question," Harbaugh said. "I told the guys that. That's something they need to understand. I don't think that's a bad thing at all. It's a privilege to play in the National Football League. It's a privilege to be a part of the Ravens."

8. Secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo has been granted permission to interview for the New York Giants' defensive coordinator job. It's scheduled to take place Wednesday. "I don't know what's going to happen with that," Harbaugh said. "That's something that he deserves an opportunity to look at."

9. Harbaugh was complimentary of safety Will Hill and how he ran the secondary. "We're challenging him for the next three to four months," Harbaugh said. "Are you going to come back a better player than you were when you left here in January? Is that slate going to be clean? We fully expect it to be. He just had a baby. He's doing great with his family. We're going to try to help him in any way we can with that."

10. The Ravens will hold their personnel meeting Wednesday and then form their offseason plan after the Pro Bowl when the top team officials meet at owner Steve Bisciotti's place in Florida. Harbaugh did say he would like free agents Torrey Smith and Justin Forsett to be re-signed. He also indicated that you can't count out Forsett for the lead running back role in 2015. "He proved that," Harbaugh said.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When the Baltimore Ravens signed wide receiver Steve Smith in free agency 10 months ago, the Ravens added a top target for quarterback Joe Flacco and kept him away from one of their biggest AFC rivals.

Smith decided to cancel his trip to the New England Patriots when he reached a three-year, $10.5 million deal with the Ravens. The Patriots were so interested that coach Bill Belichick spoke to Smith while the wide receiver was on the way to the airport to take a flight to Baltimore.

Smith
As the Ravens prepare to play in New England for Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game, Smith was asked why he didn't make his free agent visit to the Patriots.

"I think flights were kind of ... they had a little bad weather," Smith said Wednesday. "And then also, this is my first time being a free agent, everything was new to me. I just went in there just not thinking about what was lined up and just taking one trip at a time and going with my gut."

Smith will be part of one of the top matchups in Saturday's game, when he is expected to line up across cornerback Darrelle Revis. He called Revis a great corner, saying "I don't think you get a one-year deal for $15 million [actually $12 million] for being a slouch."

Smith was asked if he enjoys when the "best goes against the best."

"I'm not sure if I'm the best. But it beats getting a third-string guy," Smith said. "I anticipate I have to be patient and understand he's going to make his plays and really that's it."

Revis is ranked as the fourth-best cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. He has as many interceptions (two) as touchdowns allowed this season, and he's broken up 14 passes.

"I respect the heck out of him," Smith said. "I don't anticipate any nonsense. It'll be a good, veteran game."
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith joined a handful of receivers who have produced a 1,000-yard season since 2001 after turning 35.

Smith also defied his age in the postseason. In Saturday's wild-card game against Pittsburgh, he became the second-oldest player (35 years, 236 days) with a 100-yard receiving game in the playoffs.

"He’s not old; he doesn’t play old at all," wide receiver Torrey Smith said.

Steve Smith is 43 yards receiving shy of becoming the 13th player in NFL history with 1,000 in the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Ravens face a New England Patriots secondary on Saturday that has allowed only four receivers to produce 100 yards receiving this season: Miami's Mike Wallace, Denver's Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and Green Bay's Davante Adams.

"Steve’s had a real good career," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "I think he’s a real good player on all three levels: short, intermediate and deep. He’s got good run-after-catch skills, so he can take a short pass a long way."

Belichick added, "Good route runner and he’s made some big plays on the deep ball with his speed and ball skills and downfield judgment, and obviously with a quarterback who can throw it very well down there. Yeah, he’s a dangerous guy."
Would the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots still be where they are today if they swapped their top wide receivers? It's a timely question as the Ravens prepare to play at the Patriots in Saturday's AFC divisional playoff round.

Edelman
Smith
Ten months ago, the Ravens were in the midst of a free-agent visit with Steve Smith while reportedly expressing interest in Julian Edelman. The Ravens signed Smith that day in order to keep him from meeting with the Patriots, and New England re-signed Edelman a day later.

For the short term, the Ravens got a better value in signing Smith over Edelman. Smith finished with more yards receiving (1,065), touchdowns (six) and 20-plus-yard catches (15) than Edelman (972 yards receiving, four touchdowns and seven 20-plus-yard catches).

Those numbers look even better when you factor in that the Ravens signed Smith to a three-year, $10.5 million deal. A Ravens official later said the team was considering paying Edelman $5 million per season.

The Ravens aren't second-guessing this decision because Smith has given the offense an emotional edge and has wanted the ball on third down. In fact, the Ravens believe they got their Edelman-like receiver when they drafted Michael Campanaro in the seventh round of the 2014 draft.

It will take another couple of seasons to see if the Ravens made the right move in the long run. There are no guarantees that Smith, who turns 36 this year, will finish out the contract. The Ravens can free up $1.8 million by releasing Smith after this season, and $3 million after the 2015 season.

Edelman, who is seven years younger than Smith, has a better shot at playing out his four-year, $17 million deal with the Patriots. He has caught over 90 passes in each of the past two seasons.

So would the Ravens and Patriots be playing for a trip to the AFC Championship Game if Smith and Edelman were on the other team? Probably so. Even though they are different receivers with different personalities, each brought a certain level of productivity that wouldn't have drastically changed his team's fortune.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't address how much interest the Ravens had in Edelman when asked about the receiver on Monday.

"He’s a guy you have to know where he’s at at all times," Harbaugh said. "He can play anywhere -- in the backfield, he lines up at all the receiver positions. He’s a great football player.”
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn't just an admirer of Darrelle Revis. He wants his players to be admirers of the New England Patriots' cornerback as well.

Revis
"We talk to our corners and [tell them to] watch Darrelle Revis," coach John Harbaugh said. "Watch how he plays technique. Watch how square he plays and how patient he is. He's always in the right spot. It seems like they're running the routes right to him. He's got a knack. He's as good as he ever was."

The Ravens have only faced Revis twice since Harbaugh arrived in Baltimore in 2008. In both games (2010 and 2011), the Ravens didn't test Revis, according to Pro Football Focus.

Revis has played a total of 164 snaps against the Ravens, and Joe Flacco has thrown a total of three passes in his direction. How many did the Ravens complete? None.

Steve Smith, the Ravens' leading receiver, hasn't had much success against Revis either. According to Pro Football Focus, Revis has held Smith to two catches for 21 yards in three games when matched up against each other. They played each other twice in 2013, when Revis was with Tampa Bay and Smith was in Carolina.

"Me and Revis have played each other, and he's done a very good job," Smith said. "I anticipate watching a lot of film."

Observed and heard in the locker room after the Baltimore Ravens' 30-17 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers:
  • Suggs
    Catching the one that mattered: Ravens coach John Harbaugh referred to Terrell Suggs' fourth-quarter interception -- the one he caught between his legs -- as "the greatest catch in the history of football." Harbaugh rewarded Suggs with the game ball and tossed it to him in the locker room. What did Suggs do? He dropped it.
  • Sending them home early: Wide receiver Steve Smith talked about how you see the Terrible Towels on television and you grow up wanting to play in an atmosphere like this one. "To be in it, it was pretty cool," Smith said. "It was also cooler to silence them and see them enter their cars pretty early, too. That was the best part." Fans at Heinz Field started heading to the gates after Joe Flacco's 21-yard touchdown pass made it 30-15 with about eight minutes left in the game.
  • Special win: Suggs has won a lot of playoff games, but he acknowledged this one was special. It's the first time he's beaten the Steelers in the postseason. "Whenever my time is done on the field, they could say I never beat the Steelers in the playoffs. They can't say that now," said Suggs, who was previously 0-2 against Pittsburgh in the postseason. "It was a great achievement, but it's short-lived. We're going to enjoy the plane right home. But we all know who we're dealing with next." That would be another postseason trip to New England.
PITTSBURGH -- Clete Blakeman is refereeing Saturday's AFC wild-card game, and the Baltimore Ravens don't have fond memories of this officiating crew.

 In late October, the Ravens lost at the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-24, because these officials negated Steve Smith's 80-yard go-ahead touchdown in the final minute by flagging the veteran wide receiver for offensive pass interference.

Smith extended his arms and seemed to push Bengals safety George Iloka, but it looked like Iloka flopped to draw the flag. Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira said it was the right call.

Blakeman's crew entered that game calling the fewest penalties per game of any officiating team (12, declined and accepted).

"I got to admit, offensive pass interference, that's a pretty ballsy call considering the situation," linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
Sure, the Baltimore Ravens' front office needs to take some blame for the current state of the secondary. But general manager Ozzie Newome and the other decision-makers should be applauded for how they upgraded other parts of the team this offseason at relatively bargain prices.

In fact, the Ravens made two of the biggest free-agent pickups, according to ESPN Insider Mike Sando Insider. Running back Justin Forsett and wide receiver Steve Smith ranked among the top-10 veteran additions.

Forsett
Forsett was named the fifth-best offseason signing, although you could make the argument he should rank first in terms of value. He is the NFL's fourth-leading rusher after signing a one-year deal for the veteran minimum ($730,000).

It should be noted the Ravens signed Forsett on the recommendation of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Newsome acknowledged he wasn't sold on Forsett at first.

"[Forsett] has represented an upgrade from Ray Rice -- a testament to him and also to the excellent scheme Gary Kubiak has installed," Sando wrote.

Smith
Smith was signed for a modest three-year, $10.5 million deal after he was cut by the Carolina Panthers. His yearly average doesn't rank among the top 25 wide receivers.

Despite his recent slump, Smith remains the Ravens' leader in receptions (54) and receiving yards (819). His numbers represent only a part of his impact.

"When Jon Gruden broke down the Ravens' offense, he singled out plays showing Smith and others delivering effective blocks on the back side of the formation, which is essential for maximizing Kubiak's offense," Sando wrote.
NEW ORLEANS -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Baltimore Ravens' 34-27 win over the New Orleans Saints:

Hill
Halftime speech: Defensive coordinator Dean Pees gave the defense "a reality check" with a halftime speech, according to safety Will Hill. "That's all you can call it," he said. "He said we need to tackle, we need to continue to get after the run and said the secondary has to make plays. That's was a wake up call." The Ravens limited the Saints to 10 points and 190 yards in the second half.

Getting Steve Smith involved early: The Ravens made an effort to throw the ball to wide receiver Steve Smith early. In the first quarter, Smith caught three passes for 69 yards and pulled in a 15-yard touchdown catch while falling backward. "Obviously, he's very fiery," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "When you get the ball to him early and get his emotions into it and you keep his head into it for the full 60 minutes, it does really good things for our team." Smith was also involved in an altercation with Kenny Vaccaro, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty on the Saints safety.

Forsett is tough to bring down: Justin Forsett's career-high 182 yards moved him into third in the NFL in rushing. Why is Forsett having so much success this season? "He's not letting guys tackling him in the hole," Flacco said. "He's hitting it quick and getting to it on time. All those things turn a 2-yard runs into 6-yard runs and turns 6-yard runs into big runs."
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Steve Smith is mired in a three-game slump, but the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver brought his 'A' game in an entertaining 6 1/2-minute question-and-answer session with reporters Wednesday.

Smith
Here are some of the highlights, which included a shot at ex-girlfiends and the stadium workers at the Superdome ...

How do you treat prime-time games?

Steve Smith: "I get excited. You get real excited. Family members get to see you play. Ex-girlfriends that wish they didn't dump you are questioning themselves right now. It's fun. It's kind of true. That's why I'm not on Facebook."

Has anyone talked about returning to the site of the team's last Super Bowl?

Smith: "What you did in the Super Bowl, that's great. You can't take that trophy with you. Those people don't care what happened in the Super Bowl, [except] the people that's working the stadium facility. They're making sure the power doesn't go out."

What did you do to self-evaluate during the bye?

Smith: "Me and [wide receivers] coach [Bobby] Engram came in here yesterday and spent an hour and a half and looked at 100-some plays and self-evaluated. I looked at the plays I made and I looked at the plays I didn't make and why didn't I make them. I went in there with my notebook and just was real with myself. I internalize a lot of things. What can I do to help? What do I need to improve on that's a negative? What do I need to continue to do to get better? I walked in there kind of down, and I walked out of there encouraged because there are a lot of things I did great but there are few things I need to improve on. I need to be more dependable in certain areas. That falls on me. That doesn't fall on Joe. That doesn't fall on coach Kubiak. That doesn't fall on Harbaugh. That falls directly on me. If you can't hold yourself accountable, you can't expect anybody to do that for you.

What's it like to go against Rob Ryan's aggressive defense?

Smith: "Rob Ryan does a great job of making you think. I believe anytime -- offense, defense -- when you make anybody think, they stop their feet. When they stop their feet, they're not moving forward. You're taking bricks off the house. And how do you build a house? You have to put the bricks on. I've played enough against him to know and expect and deal with the waves and move forward."

Do you look at the current playoff picture?

Smith: "The standings right now are like college BCS. You don't know. It really requires too much energy. I can't do it. Then you start guessing and start thinking of the wrong things."

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