Outspoken Smith breathes life into Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens' offense received an injection of toughness, experience and intensity when they signed five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith in March to a three-year, $11 million contract.

"The first thing I told the (defensive backs) is, 'Look, don't get him mad,'" defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Tuesday after organized team activities. "He plays a lot harder when he's mad. Leave him alone, let sleeping dogs lie. He's a heck of a player. He's made some grabs out here. He's a tough guy. He's everything advertised. I'm glad he's on our team."

Smith has an outspoken personality and is extremely competitive.

"Boy, I watched him today, and I'll tell you it was his best day with me out here," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said of Smith. "It's just because each day he's getting more comfortable with what we're doing. He's just so competitive. He brings an edge to practice all the time. He challenges people as far as how you play, how you go about doing things.

"He challenged coaches, too. Every good offense that I've been around has had a few of those guys saying, 'Get me the ball, coach.' And that's a good thing. That's what you want. He works to get the ball, so that's what's impressive to me."

Smith was cut by the Carolina Panthers in March after he dipped to 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns last season during his final year with the NFC South franchise.

Smith caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns during his final season with the Panthers. He has 857 career receptions for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns.

The 35-year-old is determined to prove that the Panthers were wrong to move on from him.

"You can definitely see the fire," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "I've known Steve for a couple of years now, but to actually play with him and see the way he works, he takes everything serious. He's very passionate. I guess if you're not used to a guy who's passionate about his job, it comes off as raunchy, but it fits here. There are plenty of guys like that here. He's perfect for us, and we're glad he's here."

Steve Smith has also provided a mentoring presence to the Ravens' younger players like Torrey Smith.

"He's always pulling me aside, telling me something even if I already knew it," Torrey Smith said. "He'll tell you, 'Man, I'm going to be on you. You can never be good enough. And I appreciate that.

"I've been lucky. I've been able to play the game around two of the best wide receivers in the past 15 years, just to play around two great vets like that. And Steve is completely different than Anquan (Boldin. I'm picking his brain and learning, and he's a great teacher as well."

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