“I don’t view it any different," Smith told the NFL Network. "I got double-teamed last year. It is not going to be a surprise if it happens. I generally had the best corner guard me last year, so it is no secret. I am ready for it.”
It's not a question as to whether Smith can beat double teams or the other team's best cornerback. What Smith has to prove is more consistency to his game. He had two or fewer catches in half of his games last season.
In order to increase his catches (he's never had more than 50 in a season), Smith has to become more of a target on shorter patterns and routes across the middle. As ESPN's Christopher Harris pointed out in a fantasy football post, Smith was targeted on 43 passes that traveled less than 10 yards last year. In comparison, Boldin had 61.
The same goes for going across the middle. Over the past two seasons, Smith has caught six passes in between the hashes while Boldin has had 26. I'm not questioning whether Smith has the toughness to duplicate Boldin's numbers. But I do wonder whether Smith has the size to do this. At 6-foot, 205 pounds, he's 15 pounds lighter than Boldin.
Much of Boldin's production over the middle could be picked up by tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. The Ravens, though, will still rely on Smith's presence on the outside, especially when you consider the other starting wide receiver will likely be either Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss or Deonte Thompson.
"I came into the offseason, I felt like I was way farther along at that point then obviously I was the year before," Smith said. "And I feel like I’m way farther along now than at the end of the season, which is what it’s all about. You want to see progress and continue to grow and continue to get better. And I think I’m looking like how I want to look, getting there, obviously. To me, I still have a long way to go, and it’s about doing the right thing all the time.”