OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The 2012 season started off with a bang for Torrey Smith as the second-year wide receiver caught a 52-yard pass from Joe Flacco on the first play from scrimmage in the Ravens’ 44-13 season-opening win over the Bengals.
After a strong preseason, it looked like the long bomb was just the first of many explosive plays to come for the former University of Maryland star, but Smith has been relatively quiet since that opening play. He has caught just four passes for 108 yards, with 40 of those coming on a Week 2 catch against the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, the slow start isn’t fazing Smith as the Ravens try to get back on the right track against the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
“I’m not panicking at all,” Smith said. “That comes with the territory. I haven’t had the ball thrown too many times my way. It’s not that I’m not getting open or Joe’s not looking for me. It’s just the progression at times. We’ll get there, I’m not panicking.”
Perhaps more surprising than his four receptions is that Smith has only been targeted eight times after he looked to be emerging as the No. 1 receiver during the preseason. He caught 11 passes for 146 yards in three games to lead all players currently on the 53-man roster.
Smith has drawn attention from defenses after a successful first season in which he set franchise records for receiving yards and touchdowns for a rookie. However, he said he hasn’t noticed too many instances over the first two games in which he’s received bracketed coverage with a safety over top, especially last week when he was matched up in press coverage with talented cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at different points in the game.
“It really hasn’t changed a lot,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “You’d have to talk to [those defenses]. I’m sure they’re probably looking at his technique, trying to figure some things out, whether he’s running a comeback vs. a nine-route, an end-cut, whatever those would be. They know who he is; there’s no doubt about it. He’s always a big part of what we are doing.”
The Ravens will look to get Smith more involved against a Patriots defense that employs a Cover 2 scheme, and Smith views the New England secondary as the strongest part of the defense.
Regardless of his final numbers on Sunday night, Smith is more concerned with his team collecting a much-needed victory than seeing his name stand out in the final box score.
“We’re 1-1. We should have won last week if we’d have finished a few more plays,” Smith said. “If we were to lose, then maybe it’d be different. We’re working hard every day and I’m not panicking at all. Our time will come.”
Tucker in record book one day?
Having already made a 56-yard field goal to tie Wade Richey’s franchise record last week in Philadelphia, rookie kicker Justin Tucker has shown an incredible leg in his short tenure with the Ravens.
Could that lead to Tucker taking a shot at tying — or surpassing — the NFL-record 63-yard field goal? Coach John Harbaugh said it all depends.
“It would have to be the right situation,” Harbaugh said. “It would have to be an end-of-half, end-of-the-game situation where field position wasn’t much of a factor if you don’t make it, because it’s obviously a very low-percentage try. But, he is a guy that might be capable of doing something like that someday.”
For now, the Ravens are pleased with their choice to keep Tucker over former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff as the rookie is 6-for-6 on field goal tries and has routinely kicked touchbacks in his first two NFL games.
That’s good enough for Harbaugh, regardless of whether Tucker ever lands in the NFL record book.
“The main ones we want him to do now are on the ones that are makeable,” the coach said. “Kick those straight and we’ll all be happy.”
It’s common knowledge among Baltimore media not to ask Harbaugh any questions of a tactical nature.
You won’t get a straight answer and you’ll draw a scornful look from the fifth-year coach in the process.
Even so, that didn’t stop a local radio personality — not affiliated with WNST.net, mind you — from asking Harbaugh if the Ravens would start Sunday’s game with a fast-paced tempo on their first series.
“If I told you then I’d have to kill you, right?” said Harbaugh, drawing laughs from the gathered media. “We’ll see.”
The coach’s threat was obviously a joke, but his glare made it apparent he wasn’t very pleased with the query.