The man who famously told cornerback Aqib Talib to “ice up, son” is wearing out his new teammates in Baltimore Ravens’ practices.
Wide receiver Steve Smith has made a strong impression on his new coaching staff and teammates. According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Ravens’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees has cautioned his defensive backs not to tick Smith off in practice. That advice is for their own benefit:
“The first thing I told the [defensive backs] is, ‘Look, don’t get him mad. He plays a lot harder when he’s mad. Leave him alone, let sleeping dogs lie. He’s a heck of a player. He’s made some grabs out here. He’s a tough guy. He’s everything advertised. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
It is not surprising that Smith plays harder when he is mad. That statement does raise a question, however: when is Smith anything other than mad when he’s on a football field?
“He’s just so competitive. He brings an edge to practice all the time. He challenges people as far as how you play, how you go about doing things.”
Much was said and plenty of ink was spilled in praise of the leadership that Smith brought each and every day as he and his former team, the Carolina Panthers, made a surprising surge to the NFC playoffs in 2013. Coming off a disappointing season, the Ravens might just value Smith’s leadership as much as they do his play on the field.
As far as having an edge is concerned, it should be interesting to see how that plays with Joe Flacco, a man with no discernible emotions on many days, at quarterback. Maybe Smith will end up complementing his new quarterback well, or maybe he will get frustrated and have some colorful things to say. Either way, it should be great entertainment for the rest of us.