From the offseason minicamps to training camp to the preseason, Smith is looking more like the Ravens' No. 1 wide receiver this season, a title owned by Anquan Boldin for the past two seasons. Smith is running routes more smoothly this year and catching the ball with more confidence.
"He's sure of himself," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "When you don't what to worry about a simple thing as where to line up, you're able to focus a lot more energy on more important things. He can relax and play. He can be who he is. That's what is exciting."
The Ravens have struggled in the past when it comes to drafting wide receivers. Remember Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton? The same questions were being asked about Smith after he went without a catch in his first two games. Then, all of a sudden, Smith became one of the best deep threats in the league. He set Ravens rookie records with 50 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns.
Smith has developed a strong chemistry with Flacco, and it showed in his average yards per touchdown catch (34.4). The second-round pick from a year ago finished only behind Green and Julio Jones in receiving yards by a rookie last season.
The Bengals are quite aware of Smith's playmaking ability. The last time Cincinnati played at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, Smith recorded career highs with six catches for 165 yards. Now, he appears to be even better.
"He's a hard worker. He's got great character," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "When you have talent and you work at it, and you're humble about it, you can't help but get better."