For J. Smith, Harbaugh's words ring true

For J. Smith, Harbaugh's words ring true
January 25, 2013, 10:15 pm
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As Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith sat in the victorious Ravens locker room after the AFC Championship Game, he thought back to a meeting he had with coach John Harbaugh not long after he was drafted.

Harbaugh’s message, Smith said, was simple: Players like you will get us to the Super Bowl.

“Exactly what Harbaugh said to me in a meeting is exactly what’s coming true,” Smith said. “Last year we came up short, but this year we made it all the way through. It’s the best feeling I’ve felt.”

Smith was all smiles that night in New England, but it’s been a rough couple of years for Smith. The Ravens’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft, taken No, .27 overall out of Colorado has been viewed as an underachiever after two seasons marred by injuries and inconsistency.

Smith missed most of the first half of his rookie season with an ankle injury, but he was expected to challenge Cary Williams for a starting spot in training camp this season. Williams won the starting job, and Smith began the season as a nickel back. He started two games after Lardarius Webb went down with a season-ending knee injury, but then Smith was sidelined by sports hernia surgery and missed five games.

When he returned, Smith’s role was primarily on special teams, as Chykie Brown had seemingly passed him on the depth chart at nickel back. Smith finished the regular season with 31 tackles and three passes defensed on defense, along with three special teams tackles.

Brown had his struggles against New England in the AFC Championship – at one point Corey Graham seemed furious at Brown over a missed assignment -- and Smith played 36 snaps, his most extensive action in months.  

"At this stage, this type of game .. it’s an amazing feeling that I can get back out there and be part of this team as far as defense,” Smith said after the Patriots game. “It’s just a great feeling to be back out there playing.”

Smith admitted that his first two pro seasons have been marked by frustration, but all that was forgotten as he sat in the victorious locker room in Foxborough. After all, he was headed to the Super Bowl, just as Harbaugh had said.

“You have no idea what this journey has been like,” he said, “but I mean, this is what we do it for, so I’m happy it came down to this.”