NFL Nation: Torrey Smith

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith feels like he got off lucky in his confrontation with Vontaze Burfict, especially with the reputation of the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker.

In Sunday's 27-23 loss to the Bengals, Smith sustained a head injury when he was hit by cornerback Leon Hall's helmet while trying to run a slant route. While the attention soon turned to Adam Jones returning Joe Flacco's interception, Burfict went over to lay a block on Smith even though the wide receiver was visibly injured and holding his head.

Smith
Smith, though, was complimentary of Burfict on Wednesday.

"It could've been a lot worse watching the video," Smith said. "He's a heck of a player, but he's a dirty one, too. That's the one time -- as dirty of a player that I think he is -- he definitely held up. He has some good to him."

Burfict was reportedly fined $25,000 for twisting the ankles of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen earlier this month. He has been warned that he's considered a repeat offender subject to escalating discipline and that any future incidents will result in his being summoned to the league office.

When a reporter told Smith that Burfict just had knee surgery, Smith asked, "Dang, serious?"

Reporters told Smith that Burfict is expected to miss a couple of games.

"I hope he gets well soon," Smith said, which drew some laughs because no one knew if Smith was joking.

"I'm serious," Smith said.
In a span of a year, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith went from quarterback Joe Flacco's top target to an interception magnet.

Smith
Five of Flacco's seven interceptions this season have come when throwing the ball to Smith, including both interceptions Sunday in Cincinnati. Those five interceptions are tied with Dallas' Dez Bryant for most interceptions when targeting a receiver.

To put it in perspective, Flacco has thrown five interceptions on 42 passes to Smith (11.9 percent). He has been picked off twice on his 237 passes to everyone else (less than 1 percent).

There has been a disconnect with Flacco and Smith a year after Smith led the Ravens with 65 receptions. Halfway through this season, Smith is on pace for 36 catches.

Flacco has only completed 46.2 percent of the passes thrown to Smith this season. Only two receivers with double-digit receptions have a worse completion rate (Tennessee's Justin Hunter and Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson).

On Sunday, Smith didn't make a catch on two targeted passes. He had made a catch in 58 of his previous 61 games (including the playoffs) before getting shut out against the Bengals, who played physical coverage at the line.

Flacco's first interception Sunday was the result of him trying to force a pass to Smith. "I thought I had a hole, but it probably wasn’t as much as I thought," Flacco said.

On the second one, Smith stopped running his slant route after getting hit in the head. "I saw it open up for the slant and I threw it in there," Flacco said. "And the next thing you know, Pacman (Adam Jones) was standing there with the ball right there in his chest."
BALTIMORE -- When the Baltimore Ravens scored their final touchdown in a 29-7 win Sunday, there were some Atlanta Falcons players who were visibly upset by Joe Flacco throwing a 39-yard strike on fourth down with 1 minute and 46 seconds remaining.

Former Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson was animated in talking with Flacco on the field and pointed in the direction of coach John Harbaugh.

"Well, maybe I have more respect for their team than they do," Harbaugh said after the game. "I mean, it's a 13-point game at that point with plenty of time left on the clock."

The other factor for not punting or kicking a field goal on fourth-and-9 from the Falcons' 39-yard line was the Ravens losing their long-snapper for the year. Morgan Cox tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee with four minutes remaining, which meant defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was handling the long snaps.

"So snapping the ball back there in that situation, that's risking any number of bad things that could happen to us," Harbaugh said. "[To] put them back in the game wouldn't be smart. We certainly weren't expecting a touchdown. But we get all-press man coverage, and that's what we do. That's just football. It was big for us because it sealed the game at that point."

Falcons coach Mike Smith said he didn't have any objections to it.

"They called a play, we didn't stop them and that's the end of it," Smith said. "Our job is to stop the opponent, and we didn't do it. It doesn't matter what the situation is, or what the score. That's what our job is."

Flacco said the objective was getting a first down, but they simply reacted to the Falcons defense.

"They gave us a throw, so we took it," Flacco said.

Torrey Smith, who caught the touchdown, believes the Ravens could've taken the shot downfield earlier.

"They had been playing cover zero on every snap," Smith said. "Honestly, I wanted to do it on first down. But that's probably a sign of disrespect. We really had no choice but to throw the ball and finish with the ball in our hands instead of giving them a shot."

Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
4:02
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 48-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium:

What it means: The Ravens responded to their worst offensive performance of the season by producing their best. The 48 points scored is tied for the second-most in team history. It marked the ninth time in the franchise's 19-year existence that the Ravens scored over 40 points in a game and their first time since the 2012 season opener. With their second win in three road games this season, the Ravens matched their road-win total from a year ago.

Flacco on fire: Joe Flacco became the fastest player since the NFL-AFL merger to throw five touchdowns in a game. His fifth touchdown pass -- which was a 56-yarder to Steve Smith -- came just 16:03 into the game, shattering the old mark set by the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, who threw five touchdowns against the Ravens 28:09 into a game in 2007.

Droughts are over: Jimmy Smith became the first Ravens defensive back to get an interception this season, jumping a route to pick off Mike Glennon on the Buccaneers' opening drive. The Ravens were the last NFL team to get an interception from a defensive back, and that turnover led to the Ravens' second touchdown. Then, late in the second quarter, linebacker Terrell Suggs got his first full sack of the season. That ended a six-game drought for him.

Stock watch: Rising -- wide receiver Torrey Smith. After scoring one touchdown in his first five games, he reached the end zone twice in the first two drives Sunday. He didn't get pressed at the line and he made the Buccaneers pay on two slants of 15 and 9 yards.

Game ball: Joe Flacco. Who else, really? The NFL could've given him the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award after the first quarter. Flacco finished with 21-of-29 passing for 306 yards. His five touchdowns were a career best and matched the franchise mark. Flacco's passer rating of 145.9 was a career best.

Forsett reaches 100: Running back Justin Forsett produced the third 100-yard rushing game of his seven-year career. It was his first in five seasons. His 52-yard run on the opening drive was the Ravens' longest one of the season.

Applying the pressure: The Ravens matched their sack total for the entire season when they got Glennon five times. They had only five in the first five games of the season. Elvis Dumervil had 1.5 sacks, and four others had at least a half-sack.

What's next: The Ravens return home for their only game at M&T Bank Stadium in October. They face the Atlanta Falcons in a week when the main storyline will be the class of 2008 quarterbacks -- Flacco and Matt Ryan.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Thoughts on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 48-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

What it means: This was as bad as it gets. The Bucs (1-5) appeared to be coming home from a three-game road swing with a little momentum. They had won at Pittsburgh and were close at New Orleans. All week long, coach Lovie Smith and his players talked about how they wanted to put on a good show for the fans. They also said they were a better team than when they last played at home, against St. Louis in Week 2.

Guess what? The Bucs aren't a better team in any way. This one was even worse than the 56-14 loss to Atlanta, since it was at home. The honeymoon period is over for Smith. He now is fair game for criticism from fans and media.

A spot in history: Tampa Bay's 38-0 halftime deficit was the largest by any home team since before World War II, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Stock watch: Cornerback Crezdon Butler has been bouncing around the league since 2010, but he didn't get his first career start until Sunday. It didn't go well. The Ravens came out targeting Butler, who was playing in place of the injured Johnthan Banks. With Alterraun Verner covering Steve Smith, the Ravens continuously threw slant routes to Torrey Smith, who had two touchdown catches in the first quarter.

Game ball: Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans, who had been listed as questionable with a groin injury, gets this honor. Evans scored Tampa Bay's first touchdown of the game and had four catches for 55 yards.

What's next: The Bucs have a bye next Sunday. They will return the following Sunday with a home game against Minnesota.
The Baltimore Ravens aren't going to hold Torrey Smith's last-minute drop against the speedy wide receiver. By the way coach John Harbaugh is talking, the Ravens are more determined than ever to increase Smith's role in the offense.

Smith
Last season, Smith was the most targeted receiver on the Ravens, averaging eight passes thrown his way each game. This season, with the addition of Steve Smith, Torrey Smith's average targets per game has dropped to five (that ranks third on the Ravens and 64th in the NFL).

A nightmare season continued Sunday, when Torrey Smith watched Joe Flacco's fourth-down pass bounce off his hands at the Colts' 25-yard line. After the game, Smith tweeted that he was "sick" about the drop and acknowledged that these are "very trying times."

“[There is] no harsher critic of Torrey [Smith] than Torrey, and that’s maybe too much," Harbaugh said. "He’s very conscientious, very hard worker, really wants to do well. And we need him to do well, and we want him to do well, too. So it is a focus to get Torrey going, and we’re going to be working to do that."

It has been a rough start for Smith in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's new system. Smith is one of the NFL's best downfield threats because of his speed, but Kubiak has been stressing more short and intermediate routes.

In the first five games last season, Flacco threw 22 passes that traveled more than 25 yards. Through five games this year, Flacco has only attempted 14 of those passes.

Harbaugh, though, said he's confident the Ravens can get Smith back on track.

"[If] we get Torrey going, that’s going to be a big plus for us," Harbaugh said. "[He] had a couple plays in this game, and had a couple more I’m sure he wants to make.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- A series of mistakes led to the Baltimore Ravens' 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and the last one was the most gut-wrenching of them all.

Smith
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco saw exactly what he wanted to from the Colts' defense before taking the snap on fourth down in the game's final minute. The Colts were again bringing pressure, and Torrey Smith drew single coverage on a go route. In Flacco's mind, the Ravens couldn't have drawn this up any better.

But Flacco's pass bounced off Smith's hands at the Colts' 25-yard line, ending the Ravens' three-game winning streak and continuing a nightmare of a season for the struggling wide receiver. Smith sat there on the ground and pounded both fists on the turf.

Smith declined to talk to reporters after the game but posted on Twitter:


Smith, the Ravens' leading receiver a year ago, is on pace for career lows. He is currently fifth on the team with 11 receptions and trails Dennis Pitta, who hasn't played the past two games.

At this point, it's a question of whether his struggles are mental. There's a lot of pressure on Smith because this is a contract year.

The Ravens (3-2) have repeatedly expressed confidence in Smith, and Flacco called him a 100-catch receiver a few weeks ago. Defenses still respect Smith's speed, and he's drawn an NFL-leading six pass interference penalties this season.

Flacco showed his trust in Smith by going to him twice on the final drive. Smith was unable to catch a third-and-3 pass from Flacco even though he got both hands on the low pass. After the Ravens converted a fourth down with an 18-yard pass to tight end Owen Daniels, they faced another fourth down with 39 seconds remaining.

Flacco had two options: Steve Smith on an 8-yard stop route against press coverage or Torrey Smith on a deep route.

"If they wanted to play man or if they wanted to give us a shot, we had to take it," said Flacco, who was 22-of-38 for 235 yards. "At that point in the game, you were really looking to get a shot like that and take it. It's not necessarily we have to convert the fourth down. But if we converted, we still had to get to a point where they would allow us to take some kind of shot. So that was just as good of a chance as ever and we just didn't make the play."

Smith, who had problems holding onto the ball as a rookie, had only five drops last season (tied for 38th in the NFL), according to Pro Football Focus research. He had two drops before failing to pull in the last pass from Flacco.

"It was catchable. I mean it was a tough catch," Harbaugh said of the Ravens' final play. "It was a challenging play to make. Very challenging play to make. Those are not plays you see made every play in the National Football League."

It was fitting how the Ravens were unable to make the Colts pay for blitzing them right up to the final play. Flacco was sacked four times Sunday, more than he was in his first four games combined.

He was under duress on a season-high 26 percent of his dropbacks against the Colts, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He was 1-of-7 for 26 yards in those situations.

"When they come after us, there was a spot to go with the ball and we weren't quite able to make those plays," Flacco said. "You've got to credit those guys for having the confidence to come after it and cover in the back end and do their thing. We wished we could have hurt them a little bit more because they did come after us a little bit and you want to take advantage of that."
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh talked to Torrey Smith after the wide receiver drew another pass interference penalty on Sunday.

“I told him, I said, ‘You might be leading the league in drawing big pass interference penalties. Is that a bad thing? That’s a play made,’” Harbaugh said. “He didn’t really want to hear it, but he came back and made the next play, so it was good.”

Smith
Three plays after that penalty, Smith caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. It was Smith's first of the season and ended a drought of seven games, dating to last season.

“If [pass interference] counted as points, we probably would have won by 100,” he said. “”It happens every game which is frustrating for me individually, but it’s great that we continue to move the ball. And we miss out on opportunities often times when that happens, but just got to keep on working.”

Smith has become the king of drawing pass interference penalties. He led the NFL by drawing 16 in 2012, and he tops the league against this year with five after just four games.

In total, those penalties committed against the speedy Smith have led to 98 yards. That nearly matches his current receiving yards (138 on eight catches).

Even though the penalties themselves don't count as points, they have led to scores for the Ravens on nearly every drive:

Penalty against Smith: Bengals' Terrence Newman (15-yard penalty). Drive result: Missed field goal.

Penalty against Smith: Steelers' Cortez Allen (23 yards). Drive result: Touchdown.

Penalty against Smith: Browns' Justin Gilbert (31 yards). Drive result: Field goal.

Penalty against Smith: Panthers' Antoine Cason (20 yards). Drive result: Touchdown.

Penalty against Smith: Cason (nine yards). Drive result: Field goal.

Big Ben says he may be underappreciated

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
12:00
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The timing of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher's interview with Ben Roethlisberger was not ideal since the veteran quarterback did not play particularly well in a 26-6 loss at the Baltimore Ravens.

But Roethlisberger had some interesting things to say in the NFL Network interview that aired prior to the Steelers-Ravens game Thursday night.

Cowher
Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger told Cowher that he does not feel as if he has gotten the recognition he deserves for playing in three Super Bowls and winning two in his first 10 years in the NFL.

"But I think the Pittsburghers appreciate me. I think that it's going to be one of those things when I'm done playing people will look back and say, 'Wow, he was a lot better than we gave him credit for,'" Roethlisberger said. "I've won two Super Bowls, I've been to three. There are a lot of greats that have never been and have never won. I'm just going to continue giving everything I have and try and get back and when another one."

The Steelers are coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons and have looked like anything but a playoff team through the first two weeks of the season.

Roethlisberger represents the biggest hope the Steelers have of re-establishing themselves as Super Bowl contenders. If that doesn't happen it won't be because of a perception of a strained relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the veteran quarterback said.

"People made a big deal about us not liking each other or getting along -- that wasn't it at all. It's just a new transition thing," Roethlisberger said. "Now I think that we're starting to really understand each other. I think that things are going well."

Here are a few odds and ends with the Steelers off until Monday:
  • The Steelers were determined not to give up the deep ball against the Ravens, but at what cost? The Steelers held Ravens deep threat Torrey Smith to one catch for 10 yards last Thursday night and Joe Flacco's longest completion was 24 yards. That came on a pass to tight end Dennis Pitta in the middle of the field where the Ravens exploited a defense that wanted to keep everything in front of it. "I know I worked hard this week staying deep," Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell said. "Coach [Carnell] Lake worked with me a lot playing everything top down so we had a lot of great coverages. Our corners did a great job of staying on top. We forced [the Ravens] to check it down."
  • The Steelers came out of the Ravens game in relatively good shape from an injury standpoint. Nose tackle Steve McLendon hurt his shoulder but coach Mike Tomlin said that was the only the potentially significant injury that the Steelers sustained.
  • Tomlin did not buy into the thinking that a lost fumble by wide receiver Justin Brown on the opening possession set the tone for the mistake-prone Steelers against the Ravens. "It's a game of 60 minutes," Tomlin said. "The outcome of the game's not going to be defined in the initial moments of the game, whether it's positive or negative."
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When the Baltimore Ravens play host to the Washington Redskins in Saturday's preseason game, it's the renewal of what many call the Battle of the Beltways.

The Ravens typically see it as another platform to expand their influence down south.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh even suggested this week that Redskins fans adopt the Ravens as their secondary team.

Harbaugh
"We love the ‘Beltway [Battle]’ rivalry thing," Harbaugh said. "We only play them once every four years in the regular season, but our players know their players; our fans know their fans. Like I’ve said many times before, we’d love for all the Redskins fans to have their AFC team be the Ravens, to have that kind of a regional feeling about one another. That would be the best thing."

This isn't the first time the Ravens have extended a friendly hand to their NFL neighbor's fans. In recent years, Harbaugh and Ravens players have asked Redskins fans to make the Ravens their AFC alternative, whether it's when the teams play or when the Ravens reach the playoffs (and the Redskins don't).

It makes perfect business sense for the the Ravens to capitalize on the fact that their long run of success has coincided with the extended struggles of the Redskins. The Ravens openly courted suburban Washington fans, holding an open training camp practice at the Naval Academy in Anne Arundel County (which includes both Ravens and Redskins fans), putting preseason games on Washington television and airing regular-season games on a Washington FM station.

Harbaugh sounds like he's becoming a Redskins fan, although I believe the San Francisco 49ers remain his NFC team based on bloodlines.

"I watched them play [this past week]," Harbaugh said of the Redskins. "They’re a very good football team. [Redskins head coach] Jay Gruden does a great job. We’ve seen him in [our] division for a number of years. [Redskins defensive coordinator] Jim Haslett -- he brings it from about every direction you can bring it with the pressures and things. [They have] a lot of good players. It’ll be a fun game.”

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith understands the regional rivalry between the two NFL teams better than most. He grew up in Virginia and went to college at the University of Maryland, which sits along the Washington beltway.

"I already got phone calls [and] people [are] talking trash, so it’s always fun to see [my family react]," Smith said.

Smith, though, never considered himself a fan of the burgundy and gold growing up.

"I went up to a Skins game before [and] I asked Joe Theismann for an autograph," Smith remembered. "He said, ‘No.'"
It was expected to see many of the Baltimore Ravens take a tumble in ESPN.com's player rankings. That's what happens when a team goes from being Super Bowl champions to finishing 8-8.

The Ravens placed four players in the ranking of the 71st to 80th-best players on offense and defense. Three of them -- quarterback Joe Flacco, cornerback Lardarius Webb and wide receiver Torrey Smith -- fell an average of 25 spots.

Let's take a look at where the four Ravens players landed in the rankings ....

OFFENSE

80. Joe Flacco, quarterback: His free-fall of 40 spots is no surprise. Flacco was the reigning Super Bowl Most Valuable Player last year, and he's coming off a season in which he was picked off 22 times. To be honest, I didn't expect him to make the top 100 list. Flacco, however, was ranked No. 1 on a recent ranking of the Ravens' players by local media.

78. Marshal Yanda, guard: This ranking is way too low for Yanda. He's one of the best guards in the NFL, and ESPN.com's rankings has him behind guards Ben Grubbs and Josh Sitton. At least Yanda was ranked this year. It's crazy that he was left off the list in 2013.

74. Torrey Smith, wide receiver: This is a little higher than where I thought Smith would land. He's one of the best deep threats in the game, but he struggles with consistency. There shouldn't be a 23-spot gap between Torrey Smith and Steve Smith, who is ranked No. 97.

DEFENSE

75. Lardarius Webb, cornerback: He dropped 25 spots from a year ago. Webb is one of the better all-around corners in the game, and he doesn't get enough credit for his physical run support despite only being 5-foot-10, 182 pounds. If he stays healthy, Webb will bounce back into the top 50 next year.

Breaking down Ravens 2014 camp

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
9:00
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens wrapped up their 19th training camp, one that will be remembered for Steve Smith's spectacular catches, Jimmy Smith's deflections, Kelechi Osemele's pulverizing hits and a couple of season-ending injuries to the defensive line.

Looking to rebound from their worst season since 2007, the Ravens believe they're a much better team than the one that began camp three weeks ago.

"That's the beauty of training camp -- you have an opportunity to really see [the] progress," coach John Harbaugh said. "You're in a crucible, and every single day it's all you do. It's wall-to-wall football. It's morning to night. You go to sleep and you wake up, and you're back at football. There's no escape. There's nowhere to hide, [and] there's nowhere to run. It's all football all the time, so you make progress rapidly, but you have to because you have a long way to go. We just have so much work to do still between now and then, and that's what we have to focus on.”

With 24 days until the season opener, this is what stood out in this year's training camp:

Osemele
Most impressive player of camp, offense: Left guard Kelechi Osemele. If he dominates this way in the regular season, the Ravens could have another Pro Bowl guard. He put so many defensive players on their backs that I'm surprised IHOP hasn't signed him to an endorsement deal.

Most impressive player, defense: Cornerback Jimmy Smith. He has carried all of the momentum from last year into this summer. Smith was the only defensive back who repeatedly won in one-on-one drills, and he regularly knocked down the few passes thrown in his direction.

Most disappointing player, offense: Wide receiver Deonte Thompson. He never resembled a player who had made the Ravens the past two seasons. His continual drops have pushed him on the wrong side of the bubble.

Most disappointing player, defense: Cornerback Chykie Brown. He entered camp as the front-runner for the No. 3 job, and he's now the biggest concern on the defense after allowing a deep pass on nearly every day of camp. Injuries to Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson have put Brown on the first-team defense by default.

Smith
Best play: Wide receiver Torrey Smith. He provide the highlight of camp during a red-zone drill at M&T Bank Stadium, where he skied in the air over cornerback Asa Jackson and hauled in Joe Flacco's pass with one hand.

Worst play: Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on the second day of joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers. It's a scene that won't soon be forgotten, from his gut-wrenching screams while laying on the ground to players from both teams kneeling down to pray around him.

Best addition: Wide receiver Steve Smith. It's hard to remember a day when you weren't by a catch he made.

Daniels
Most disappointing addition: Tight end Owen Daniels. Unlike Steve Smith, Daniels looked like a player who doesn't have much left.

Biggest sleeper, offense: Wide receiver Kamar Aiken. After being cut by three teams, Aiken has impressed the Ravens with his strong hands, which has helped him go from a long shot to someone who is inching closer to a roster spot.

Biggest sleeper, defense: Cornerback Tremain Jacobs. The undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M has become a favorite of the coaching staff. He isn't going to be the No. 3 corner this year, but he has the potential to develop into one in future years.

Most improved player, offense: Fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Last year, the Ravens re-signed Vonta Leach because Juszczyk wasn't ready as a rookie. Now, Juszczyk is primed for a breakthrough year as a lead blocker and a receiver.

Most improved player, defense: Linebacker Pernell McPhee. Don't be surprised if he matches his six-sack total from his 2011 rookie season because he's healthy and looks more explosive.

Ravens Camp Report: Day 14

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
4:15
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Baltimore Ravens training camp:
  • The play of the day came from an unlikely source. Backup linebacker John Simon made a leaping one-handed interception toward the end of practice. Simon, a 2013 fourth-round pick, is known for his toughness but he often struggles to make plays in space.
  • Biggest rule for all rookies: Don't tick off the owner. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro almost did that Monday, when his parents parked in owner Steve Bisciotti's parking spot (which stands out because his initials "SB" are on it). Security had to get Campanaro to point out his parents in the crowd so the vehicle could be removed before Bisciotti arrived for practice.
  • With both backup defensive ends out for the season, DeAngelo Tyson took over that spot and made a nice play in his new role. Tyson leapt up and authoritatively knocked down a pass with both hands.
  • It was surprising to see wide receiver Torrey Smith fielding punts. Smith brings explosive speed and sure hands to that role. But it's a risk to expose the team's best deep threat to getting injured on special teams. Smith also has virtually no experience in covering punts. He returned one punt in college and has never fielded a punt in three NFL seasons.
  • Rookie third-round pick Terrence Brooks is getting a lot of reps in practice. He worked at nickel back with the first-team defense and moved back to free safety with the second team.
  • The Ravens and 49ers ended their three days of joint practices with a non-contact workout. This came after two days of padded practices for the teams.
  • Schedule: The Ravens are off Tuesday. They hold practices Wednesday and Thursday before wrapping up training camp Friday.
  • Injury wire: Tight end Dennis Pitta missed his second straight practice with what coach John Harbaugh described as a "little ankle sprain." Pitta did individual drills for about 30 minutes before being told to sit out the rest of practice. ... Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles) is scheduled to have season-ending surgery by the end of the week. ... Cornerback Asa Jackson (ankle) was sidelined for his second straight practice. ... Cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) missed his 12th straight practice. He last practiced July 25. ... Guard Will Rackley (head), guard Ryan Jensen (ankle) and safety Brynden Trawick (back) also didn't practice. ... Nose tackle Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list. ... Defensive end Brent Urban (torn ACL) is out for the season.

Ravens Camp Report: Day 5

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:45
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Baltimore Ravens training camp:


  • Wide receiver Torrey Smith made the catch of camp, when he pulled in a high Joe Flacco throw with one hand. For most of camp, Steve Smith had stolen the spotlight from Torrey Smith. But Torrey Smith showed off his athleticism with that catch during the red zone drill.
  • Safety Matt Elam became the first to intercept Flacco in this year's camp. He nearly paid a price for it, though. Owner Steve Bisciotti playfully drove his golf cart onto the field and nearly hit Elam to stop him from reaching the end zone on the return.
  • Running back Justin Forsett has an impressive burst. If you didn't know it, he put it on display when he caught a short slant and beat four defenders to score a touchdown. Forsett is a smallish back who is competing with rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro for the No. 3 running back spot.
  • Cornerback Chykie Brown struggled mightily in the first week of camp. After sitting out yesterday with a tweaked hamstring, he came back and broke up two passes. The extra rest may have helped him refocus mentally. His biggest mistake of the night was a defensive holding penalty.
  • A little more than 28,000 fans attended the Ravens' practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night. It was the team's first workout at the stadium in this year's camp.
  • Ray Lewis made an appearance at the stadium and revealed what his statue may look like during an on-field interview. He said the statue, which will be placed in the same plaza as Johnny Unitas, will feature him doing his signature dance. It will be unveiled at some point this year.
  • Schedule: The Ravens have their first day off on Tuesday. They return to practice Wednesday at 1 p.m.
  • Injury wire: Brown (tweaked hamstring) returned after missing one day of practice. ... CB Lardarius Webb (back) missed his third practice. ... DE Chris Canty (family issue) was the only other starter who didn't practice. ... Will Rackley (head) and OT Parker Graham (groin) also didn't practice. ... NT Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list.
The Baltimore Ravens' Torrey Smith ranked No. 6 among wide receivers entering the final year of their contracts, according to the rankings by ESPN's Mike Sando.

One anonymous general manager told Sando that Smith doesn't rank higher because "he's a bit of a one-trick pony [as a downfield threat]."

Is it valid to put that label on Smith? The statistics say yes.

[+] EnlargeRavens
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsThe Ravens would like Torrey Smith to become a more versatile receiver.
Last season, Smith led all NFL players in the most targets and routes run on passes that travel over 20 yards in the air. He was targeted 34 times on such passes, two more than Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace. It should be noted that Wallace was referred to as a one-trick pony by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin during his days in Pittsburgh, and Smith trumped him in running deep.

Of the 130 passes thrown Smith's way last year, 26 percent went over 20 yards in the air. Compare that rate to the receivers ranked ahead of him like Denver's Demaryius Thomas (18.5 percent), Dallas' Dez Bryant (15 percent) and Green Bay's Jordy Nelson (14 percent). It's not even close when you look at the number of times Joe Flacco flings the ball deep to Smith.

Where Smith has to become more of a complete receiver is on the shorter passes. Last season, he had 39 catches on throws that traveled 10 yards or less in the air, which ranked 71st among NFL players. Marlon Brown, an undrafted rookie, had one more reception on those shorter passes than Smith in 2013.

No one is saying the Ravens should stop throwing deep to Smith. His speed is his biggest asset, and he has been one of the better downfield threats in the NFL over the past three seasons. But Smith has to become more of a target on slants, comeback routes and quick outs. Those types of routes increase the efficiency of an offense.

The numbers show that Smith has made strides in getting rid of that one-trick pony perception. In his first two seasons, 34 percent of the passes thrown to Smith went over 20 yards in the air. So that rate did drop significantly last season.

What should help Smith is the addition of Steve Smith and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Steve Smith's presence should limit defenses from bracketing their coverages on Torrey Smith all game. Smith drew all the attention last season when the Ravens were without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta.

Kubiak is also known for not taking as many deep shots. In the past four seasons, Baltimore ranked second in air yards per pass attempt, which reflects how far the ball travels past the line of scrimmage to its target on average. In Houston, Kubiak's offenses were 27th in that category during the same period. If this trend continues under Kubiak, the Ravens could look to get the ball quicker to Smith.

Asked about his learning curve with Kubiak's offense, Torrey Smith said, “I understand football, so it’s not really hard. The biggest thing is remembering the terminology. It’s a lot faster today than it was yesterday and, obviously, a few weeks ago. I think when it’s all said and done, I think we’ll be fine.”

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