OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens lost more than one of their top wide receivers this offseason when Steve Smith Sr. retired. The Ravens are now without a veteran leader who brought a hardened edge to the offense as well as to the locker room.
Even though Mike Wallace has to take over both roles by default -- he's the only wide receiver on the roster older than 27 and with more than three years of NFL experience -- it appears that he's fully committed to filling Smith's void.
"I just have to curse a couple more people out, choke a couple more people out," Wallace said, drawing laughter from reporters. "I was telling [wide receivers coach] Bobby [Engram] last meeting that I've got to come back in with a different attitude and I've got to start pushing people around a little bit more because Steve isn't going to be here and somebody has to do it. So, I'm going to take over that role. Breshad [Perriman], if he gets out of line, I'm going to smack him up a little bit."
While Wallace was having fun about choking out teammates -- well, the Ravens hope -- there's no joking about him assuming the leadership role among the wide receivers.
At 30, he's at least three years older than every other receiver on the roster. Wallace has caught 486 passes over his career, and the other seven receivers (Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, Chris Matthews, Keenan Reynolds, Kenny Bell and Vince Mayle) have combined for 65 catches.
Even last year, when he was in his first season with the Ravens, Wallace showed he's comfortable in helping younger receivers. After practice, he repeatedly lured them over to the Jugs machine to work on their hands by catching over 100 balls and build camaraderie.
Now, Wallace can expand his influence because of his familiarity with the team.
"I know the offense and I know what's going on," Wallace said. "Last year was just scrambling around and trying to learn a whole new playbook and things like that. But this year, it's much easier for me. I'm comfortable, I know all my teammates, I know all my coaches. So, it's just like coming into home. It's great, and just to have continuity, coming back to the same spot, and everybody knows me and what to expect from me, I just want to be a leader for this team."