Now it can be told: the sports hernia Ravens receiver Torrey Smith dealt with down the stretch of last season was, well, no small thing.
The biggest thing about it, Smith said after Mondays training camp practice, is everything I was doing was painful.
Wait ... everything?
Well, I was fine cutting and fine once I got going, Smith said, but actually getting going, the transition to that, was painful (and) when it started to get cold, that was terrible.
Smith still put together a highly productive season, grabbing 50 passes for 841 yards, with seven of his receptions going for touchdowns a record for a Ravens rookie. He caught a last-minute game-winner against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, scored a touchdown in the AFC title game and generally made a name for himself as one of the NFLs best young deep threats.
But dont expect him to beat his chest over his accomplishments. Rather than focus on what he accomplished, he said he has watched films of the catchable balls he dropped and the plays he didnt make which were more numerous than he wanted.
I have high standards for myself, he said, and looking back at the end of the year and seeing all the plays I left on the field, it could have been a monster season for me. I know (now) that as long as I can be consistent, I can reach those goals. I just want to get better and better every time I walk off the field. Being consistent on my technique, on catching the ball, in my routes, thats what Im working toward.
Smith underwent surgery to repair the hernia after the season and was back to full speed for the spring practice season. The Ravens love whatre seeing from him in his second training camp. A year ago, he was admittedly clueless, having come to camp cold, without the benefit of spring OTAs and minicamps due to the lockout.
I could barely walk and chew gum at the same time, Smith said. I was so busy thinking about my assignments and worrying about things I shouldnt worry about. For me, coming in this year, understanding the offense, just trying to develop as a player, its a lot less stressful.
This year, he has been the best receiver in camp, a playmaker and frequent target of quarterback Joe Flaccos. Ravens coach John Harbaugh cant praise him enough.
This is a guy who comes to work every single day and all he thinks about is how he can get better, Harbaugh said. Hes the most efficient improver, if thats a word, that Ive ever seen. He gets the most out of every day. I think thats why hes going to continue to become a great player.
Although Bryant McKinnie was in full pads for the first time, the Ravens went with Michael Oher and rookie Kelechi Osemele as their starting offensive tackles. But McKinnie drew praise from Harbaugh.
He worked hard. He made it through the whole practice. I thought he looked athletic. He looked like he was moving well. Now he just has to stack (good practices), Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh said he reached out to Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid after hearing that Reids oldest son had died at the teams training camp at age 29. Harbaugh was an assistant under Reid in Philadelphia for almost a decade.
With the sun burning down, Harbaugh pulled guard Marshal Yanda and receiver Jacoby Jones from practice early just to give them a break. Theyd done enough, he said.