As Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith prepares for his 16th NFL season, he's still working his way back from the torn Achilles that prematurely ended his campaign last season after seven games.
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Smith Preparing for Regular Season
Tuesday, March 1
"I think I'll be fine," Smith told reporters when asked if he would be ready for the regular season that begins on Sept. 8, per ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.
Smith joked that he would "love to be 100 percent and absolutely do nothing in training camp. That would be perfect. I’m not sure how that will flow with [coach John] Harbaugh." He also said a recent visit to his doctor resulted in a report of "all good stuff to start and move forward.”
Before getting hurt, the 36-year-old Smith was enjoying one of his best seasons. The former All-Pro caught 46 passes for 670 yards and three touchdowns. His 14.6 yards per reception was his highest total since 2012 with the Carolina Panthers.
Smith was injured during the Ravens' 29-26 win over San Diego on Nov. 11. He caught a pass over the middle in the third quarter, broke free for a big gain before falling to the ground and pointing to his right ankle, signaling to the training staff on the Ravens' sideline.
Before the 2015 season began, Smith announced he was going to retire at the end of the year. The consummate competitor, he had a change of heart and announced on Twitter in December that he would return for another year:
Steve Smith Sr @89SteveSmith
Wit the blessing of My Family, Friends & Fans!! 2016 Let's give'em Hell 😂 #SmithWPMOYChallenge #SmithWPMOYChallenge https://t.co/RxBQMHGLT22015-12-30 17:04:13
Smith remains one of the NFL's most dangerous weapons, when healthy. He showed no signs of slowing down in 2015, although his performance got lost early in the year because the Ravens stumbled out of the gate en route to a 5-11 finish.
If the Ravens are going to get back into the playoff mix in a competitive AFC North, Smith's return will have to play a huge role. He's their most dynamic playmaker on offense, capable of lifting an entire passing game on his own and serving as a safety net for quarterback Joe Flacco.