Sounding confident he had made the right decision, Steve Smith joined reporters on a conference call Friday just minutes after signing his three-year contract with the Ravens. The courtship of Smith was a slam dunk for the Ravens, who brought him to town Thursday night, and reached an agreement Friday before he could get away.
Smith had a Monday visit scheduled with the Patriots, but will never make that trip. He met with the Ravens until almost 4 a.m. Friday morning, and by the afternoon, he had found his new home.
“I love the coach (John Harbaugh) I like the offensive scheme, (wide receivers coach) Bobby Engram is very similar to Ricky Proehl, a former player and wide receiver coach,” Smith said. “Everything seemed to gel. Coach Harbaugh was excellent. We talked about a lot of things. The one thing that they said that was consistent was, ‘We want you to be yourself.’ That was very encouraging. I enjoyed that.
“They convinced me that I would fit in here very well. I found a home that seems to want me.”
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Smith has a feisty personality and is a fierce competitor, who practices hard and plays hard. That should be good for the Ravens, who lost some strong personalities in 2013 when Ray Lewis retired, Ed Reed departed in free agency, and Anquan Boldin was traded. Like Boldin, Smith is a physical receiver who will fight for balls in traffic, take punishment, block downfield, and relish clutch situations. However, Smith said he has not come to replace Boldin. He has come to help the Ravens win.
“I’m no Anquan Boldin,” Smith said. “I respect the heck out of “Q.” I’m Steve Smith. What I bring to the table as a Baltimore Raven, I have to earn that.
“We play similar games. We want to win, and we go all out. But we’re also individuals. So I’m not here to replace anyone, I’m here to be myself.”
Smith said new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak factored into his decision to join the Ravens.
“Coach Kubiak, I know his system,” Smith said. “I’ve seen the very creative plays. I want to be a part of that."
After 13 years with the Panthers, Smith abruptly cut, despite being the franchise’s all-time leading receiver. At age 35, Smith should be motivated to prove he still has plenty left, and that the Panthers made a mistake. But Smith said he was looking ahead, not behind.
“I’m not coming to Baltimore with any chip on my shoulder,” Smith said. “I’m coming to Baltimore as Steve Smith.”