How 'vintage' Steve Smith helps Ravens

Wide receiver Steve Smith showed how many ways he's going to help the Baltimore Ravens in Saturday's preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

He caught six passes for 80 yards in one half of work, and nearly each reception highlighted why the Ravens signed him one day after the Carolina Panthers released him in March.

This is how Smith is going to strengthen some of the Ravens' weaknesses in the passing game:

  • Smith fought threw four tacklers to turn a short pass into a 30-yard gain, illustrating how his determination exceeds his size. Ravens receivers had trouble breaking tackles last season. The Ravens averaged 4.89 yards after first contact last season, which was 24th in the NFL.

  • Smith's diving, 24-yard touchdown grab from Joe Flacco at the end of the first half is the type of clutch catch the Ravens need. The Ravens only had five touchdown catches in the last five minutes of a half last season. Only seven teams had fewer.

  • His eight-yard catch on a slant route converted a third-and-5 in the first quarter. That high-percentage throw will be a staple of the Ravens' offense this season, and Smith will be a frequent target on third downs. Since 2002, Smith has the seventh-most third down catches among active receivers (208). Last season, the Ravens ranked 20th in the NFL in third-down conversions (36.4 percent).

"I think he saw a little bit of everything," Flacco said. "He catches the ball great. When he gets to it, he catches it. He runs with the ball well. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s quick, [and] he’s fast, so he can break tackles. He’s going to help us out a lot. We’re getting on the same page; every day we’re getting better and better. I think this was a big step with him.”

Throughout his career, Smith has talked about carrying a chip on his shoulder. His determination now comes from proving himself with a new team. Smith spent the first 13 years of his NFL career with the Panthers.

"People are always going to say, ‘OK, it’s great what he did over here, but he’s not there any more. What’s he’ s going to bring to the table?,'" Smith said "So that’s what I want to do is show what I bring to the table.”

The Ravens, though, insist he has nothing to prove to them.

"How many times have we seen him, over the years down there, make a catch? Take that wide turn out of a break and make yards or bounce off tacklers," coach John Harbaugh said. "If you tackle him high, tackle him low, he’s strong, he can bounce out of tackles. And then to go make that catch in the end zone at the half, that’s kind of vintage Steve Smith. So, it was great to see that.”