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Steve Smith makes decision on retirement

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Steve Smith makes decision on retirement

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith says he will retire after the 2015 season – making the bombshell announcement following Monday’s practice.

Entering his 15th NFL season at age 36, Smith said he had been thinking about his future for months, and that he almost retired this spring. But he decided to return for one more season, and to leave the game on his terms.

“Me and my family, basically after this season, this is my last season,” Smith said. “I’m going to go home, and be Dad. I feel like it’s time.”

Smith told his teammates and coaches of his decision before making the announcement.

“Every time you do an interview at my age, people always ask, ‘How much longer do you want to play?”’, Smith said. “I feel like this is the best place to end.

“I don’t want to hold on. Jerry Rice is the best wide receiver to ever play. But I don’t believe chasing whatever there is to chase, for four more years, would be conducive to my family and conducive to me.”

Smith’s career has been brilliant – 915 receptions, 13,262 yards, and 73 touchdowns, with eight 1,000-yard seasons. He spent his first 13 NFL seasons with the Panthers, before joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2014. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has only been with Smith for one year, but said their relationship was already special.

“Probably one of the most fun players I’ve ever coached,” Harbaugh said. “Definitely a tone setter. He’s a pit bull. Forces everyone in practice to bring their A game or they’ll be humiliated.”

Smith is still the Ravens’ best receiver, coming off a 2014 season in which he caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns. 

Asked how his teammates reacted to his decision, Smith said, “A few guys panicked that I was shutting it down today. They were really supportive.”

Smith admitted it would be difficult to walk away, but that he was already preparing for the transition.

“Anytime you do something 15 years, plus four years of college, that’s 19, 20 years of football,” Smith said. “They will be a mourning process. They’ll be some parts of it where, it’s going to be tough. I’m not really nervous about retiring. I’m more nervous about what it looks like on the other side.”

Asked how much longer he thought he could play, Smith said, “Probably another two or three years.”  But Smith doesn’t want to. His decision sounded final. So whenever the Ravens’ season ends, expect Smith’s career to end, too.

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Ravens cancel Saturday's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium

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USA Today Sports

Ravens cancel Saturday's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium

The Baltimore Ravens cancelled Saturday night's free open practice at M&T Bank Stadium due to a forecast that calls for heavy rain and inclement weather.

There is no official word from the team on whether this practice will be resheduled, but it seems like Sunday may be an option, even though there's rain in the forecast then too.

Ravens fans who were looking to see first-round draft pick and potential future starting quarterback Lamar Jackson will have to wait for another day. His presence at training camp, an inevitable competition with the incumbent, Joe Flacco, and potential two-quarterback packages involving both of them are set to be some of the biggest storylines of Ravens camp this summer.

As a Heisman Trophy winner, Jackson was one of the most dynamic players in college football during his time at Louisville. If he can replicate that kind of performance in the NFL, he will be at plenty more training camp sessions for Ravens fans to watch.

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After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

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After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

This time last year, running back Alex Collins wasn't a part of the Baltimore Ravens.

After being released by the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2017 preseason, the Ravens placed the 23-year-old on their practice squad, and by Week 2, Collins was already making plays.

As the season progressed, Collins found himself as the Ravens' top running back. He finished 2017 as the team's leading rusher with 973 yards while Javorius "Buck" Allen followed behind him with 591 yards.

If the 2018 NFL season began today, Collins would likely be the Ravens' starter, which is quite ironic considering the fate of his 2017 preseason.

"I always go back to where I started and where I am now, and I use that as my motivation," Collins said after Thursday's training camp practice.

"No matter the day, no matter how tired I am, I think to myself, at this time last year, I didn’t know my position, where I was, where I’d end up. So just having that security behind it is definitely my motivation to keep it this way and keep pushing forward and keep trying to get better instead of being complacent.”

Over the course of 15 games, Collins proved he had the strength and speed to make an impact on the team after Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury on the first drive of the Ravens' Week 1 game and Kenneth Dixon sat out the entire season with a torn meniscus. 

While job security is something we all strive for, Collins isn't getting too comfortable with the hierarchy. 

“I don’t want to say necessarily ‘comfortable,’ because when I use that word, it makes me feel like I’m too relaxed and lackadaisical," Collins said.

"I’m more focused. I don’t want to get comfortable. I don’t want the team or our group to get comfortable, because we just want to get better every day. So, in the position I am, it’s a great feeling, but I’m always pushing myself to be better.”

While Collins has set personal goals for himself – like a 1,000-yard season – he is equally as focused on making the Ravens backfield one of the best groups in the National Football League. 

“I expect that," Collins said on being the Ravens' starter.

"I would hope that all the other running backs expect [to be the starter] as well, and that’s what kind of drives our group – when we all know that we have that capability to be the No. 1 guy, and we’re out competing and push each other and try to be the best. No matter who’s out there during the game, you’ll see a productive play out of that person. So, I have that mindset. I want to be the guy. I have that fire in me, and I hope [that is] as well as the other running backs, as I encouraged them as well.”

Collins noted that he's coming into training camp a bit heavier. He added five pounds to his 200-pound frame "just to see how that feels," but is still maintaining the stamina and strength he's always had. 

Collins – who was one of several veterans released from practice early as the team begins to adjust their way into the extended preseason – finished his media availability with a friendly warning to fantasy football owners: "Draft me now before it’s too late, guys."

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