After years of wanting to play more and longing for the chance to prove he belongs, Troy Smith is going to get that chance again soon.
It just won’t be in Baltimore.
Smith was a “Decision-Day” casualty late this afternoon when the Ravens parted company with the former Heisman Trophy winner. It marked the end of a 3-year run for Smith, who played in just 14 games along the way and never quite did enough to even warrant consideration as the starting quarterback. Ironically, prior to the 2008 campaign, the Ravens were prepared to hand Smith the job after Kyle Boller suffered a pre-season injury, but Smith came down with tonsilitis late in camp and Joe Flacco took over from there…and the rest, as they say, is history.
A source tells me that Smith was “gracious and understanding” when delivered the news today. “It wasn’t a total shock, that’s for sure,” says a member of the Ravens staff. “And Troy knows there’s not much future here for him.”
The other semi-shocker of Saturday was the dismissal of veteran kicker Shayne Graham, who lost an intense pre-season kicking battle with incumbent Billy Cundiff. A Ravens source tells me it came down to leg strength and long distance field goal opportunities. By “leg strength”, I can only assume that includes the ability to drive the ball into the end zone on kick-offs. The source also says the Ravens brought Graham in knowing full well that Cundiff, in fact, might prevail in the battle. “We like Billy a lot more than people realize,” says a team source .
And after three seasons trying to crack the starting lineup, Antwan Barnes was another “D-Day” dismissal, although the Ravens were able to ship the linebacker to Philadelphia for a 2011 draft pick. “Just a numbers game,” said a Ravens source. “A couple of other guys were a little better in pre-season and it was just time to give Antwan a chance for a fresh start somewhere else.”
Demetrius Williams got his walking papers on Saturday, ending a 4-year stint in Baltimore that was more frustration-filled than anything else. At times he looked like the field-stretcher and red zone threat the Ravens had missed throughout the middle part of last decade, but injuries curtailed his progress to the point where he was no longer reliable enough to count on for a 16-game season. Most followers assumed Williams’ roster spot was safe when Donte’ Stallworth went down with an injury last week, but a weak performance for DWill at St. Louis on Thursday night sealed his fate.