Daryl Smith only played two games last season, and the Jacksonville Jaguars only won two games.
Suddenly, life is looking sweeter for Smith. There he was Wednesday at Ravens minicamp, practicing with the starters at inside linebacker for the defending Super Bowl champs.
Smith signed with the Ravens last week, after spending his first nine NFL seasons with the Jaguars.
After watching the Ravens win the Super Bowl, Smith dreams of playing in it. "Ain’t no guarantee that we can get back there," Smith said Wednesday. "All I know is that the opportunity is there. I’m just hoping to be a part of that. I ain’t going to lie, this is my 10th year. I definitely want to win, get to the playoffs, and get a shot at the title."
Smith must earn a role with the Ravens. With Jameel McClain still recovering from a spinal cord contusion, rookie Arthur Brown, Josh Bynes, and Albert McClellan are all competing with Smith at inside linebacker, and McClain remains optimistic about his progress.
The Ravens are hoping Smith can still play at a high level, and that his body can take the pounding. He underwent surgery in October, to repair a recurring groin injury. While Smith said he felt healthy, he admitted he was catching up.
"I feel healthy, just rusty," Smith said. "These guys have been out here since OTA’s. I’ve only been doing conditioning and lifting weights. You can’t duplicate football, just being out here. That’s what I’m doing now."
At his best, Smith is relentless in run pursuit, the Jaguars’ all-time leading tackler. Playing with talented outside linebackers like Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil should ease Smith’s transition to a new team.
"They’ve always been known as a team that plays great defense," Smith said. "I’m going to come and do what I can. Whatever they need I’ll do it. Teach the young guys a thing or two. Hoping to learn something from the guys that are already here."
Smith has already left a positive impression with coach John Harbaugh. "He was calling the defenses,’’ Harbaugh said Tuesday. "He was setting the defense, and he didn’t seem to have any issues at all. Moves around well. Looked good."
Wearing a Ravens uniform felt good to Smith, too. The Jaguars are rebuilding. Smith likes where he has landed.
"I think every year you’ve to got to go in and prove yourself," Smith said. "It’s just new scenery. "I can sit up here and tell you what I can be, but I got to get on the field and show it. That’s all I’m looking for. An opportunity."