The Baltimore Ravens have taken their time getting Steve Smith accustomed to his new offense this preseason, but they took the training wheels off in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins—and he flew.
The veteran wideout only amassed two catches through the opening two preseason games, but he broke out on Saturday night. He had six receptions for 80 yards—both game-highs—and caught a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco in the Ravens' winning effort.
Even with Torrey Smith catching four passes for 41 yards and running back Kyle Juszczyk adding 53 through the air, Smith had no trouble emerging as the Ravens' most dangerous wideout—at least on Saturday.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec noted that added comfort with the Ravens offense paid dividends in Smith's performance:
Steve Smith said he was thinking too much last week. Was much more relaxed this week.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) August 24, 2014
Smith is entering his 14th season in the league and has been one of the top receivers on his team for almost all of them. Seven 1,000-yard campaigns made him the most successful receiver in Carolina Panthers history, with his speed and strength more than making up for his 5'9" frame.
After leaving the Panthers this offseason, Smith moved from one team with receiver deficiencies to another. The Ravens signed Smith intending for him to emerge as a dangerous No. 2 target after Torrey Smith, and that's proving to be a smart move so far.
NFL Network's Chris Wesseling thinks Smith's downfall has been overplayed a bit:
See also: Smith, Steve RT @evansilva: The demise of Marques Colston was greatly exaggerated.— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) August 24, 2014
Steve Smith has been a receiver worthy of a starting spot practically since fantasy football was invented, but that's changed in recent seasons as his production fell in Carolina. However, sometimes a change of scenery is all that a player needs in order to get back to his play of old.
Baltimore's offense certainly has all of the tools to be successful, but it took a major step back in 2013 after its Super Bowl season. Smith's arrival gives Flacco a key reliable veteran target, though, and the importance of that can't be understated.
Smith is worth taking on your bench in fantasy this season, and a strong few opening games could make him a flex starter in standard leagues before the season is in full swing.