SAN JOSE, Calif. – It will be interesting to see what the signing of Jason Babin means for Ravens rookie linebacker Za’Darius Smith.
Smith (inactive) did not dress for Sunday’s loss to the Broncos, and now the 35-year-old Babin has been added at outside linebacker to bolster the Ravens’ pass rush. With Terrell Suggs (Achilles injury) lost for the season, the Ravens decided they needed to add another pass rusher, rather than to count on Smith having an impact year as a rookie.
There’s still plenty of time for Smith, a fourth-round pick, to make meaningful plays this season. But he’ll have to earn his playing time, because it clearly will not be handed to him, even with Suggs gone.
“We’re excited about Za’Darius,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Monday, before the Ravens signed Babin on Tuesday. “He didn’t dress (Sunday), but he practiced really well. He’s going to have to continue to improve. Sometimes you get thrown into the fire and guys respond.”
Adding Babin, a high-motor player even at age 35, will keep the competition high at outside linebacker. Elvis Dumervil remains the team’s premier pass rusher, but Babin, Courtney Upshaw, Albert McClellan, and Smith will all be vying for reps in passing situations
The first challenge for Smith is to practice well enough this week in San Jose, Calif., to prove he should be activated for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. Without Suggs, the Ravens will take all the pass-rushing help they can get.