Ravens second-year linebacker Za'Darius Smith has been conspicuously quiet through the first six games this season, but he insists that, " my time is going to come."
The Ravens have high hopes for Smith, a fourth-round pick in 2015 who had 5 1/2 sacks as a rookie last season and figured to be one of the heirs apparent to 30something linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs. With both of those players hobbling, Smith has had ample opportunity to make an impact this season, but it just hasn't happened yet.
Smith has played all six games this season, playing 251 defensive snaps often in passing situations. He has eight tackles, one quarterback hit and no sacks.
It is emblematic of a larger problem; other than Suggs, who leads the team with five sacks, no Ravens linebacker has recorded any sacks this season. That has put more pressure on the Ravens secondary, which has given up eight touchdown passes during the three-game losing streak.
"My time is going to come, and my sacks are going to come," Smith said after Wednesday's practice. "I’m going to just take it one day at a time and keep improving as a pass rusher.”
Smith, who hasn't shown the explosiveness to beat opposing offensive tackles, has been slowed at times by an ankle injury. He did not practice at all in the week leading up to the Week 2 game at Cleveland, but he played well in that game and recorded his lone quarterback hit this season.
Smith said the ankle has bothered him "a little bit," but isn't using any injury as an excuse.
"I won’t blame it on my ankle," he said. "I’m a tough guy. At the same time, I just have to get better as a pass rusher.”
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