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Should Steve Smith Sr. retire as a Panther? Ron Rivera thinks so

Should Steve Smith Sr. retire as a Panther? Ron Rivera thinks so

Panthers coach Ron Rivera thinks Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. should retire with Carolina. Hmm what now?

Ok, so maybe this isn't as presumptuous as it sounds considering the 37-year-old played 13 of his 16 seasons as a Panther. 

Here's what Rivera said, via ESPN

"[Retiring as a Panther is] up to Steve. I think he should, though. Think of all the years he played here. But it’s up to him."

Smith holds every major receiving record for the Panthers' franchise. But after quarterback Cam Newton arrived, the strain of two outsized personalities contributed to Carolina releasing Smith. 

The decision didn't sit well with Smith, obviously, and he promised there would be "blood and guts everywhere" when he faced his former team for the first time. He torched the Panthers in that matchup, catching seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

Three years later and contemplating the end of a storied career, perhaps hard feelings have softened on both sides. 

"He’s a dynamic, fiery player that plays every play the way it should be played," Rivera said. "That’s probably the biggest thing about him that I remember, how hard he played the game, how much he wanted to win."

That's also what makes Smith the perfect Raven. He embodies the bold, hard-knock philosophy of Baltimore's franchise. And he said as much himself. 

"When I look in the defensive meeting room and I see, 'Play like a Raven,' 'Baltimore Ravens: We build bullies,' that's what I'm talking about," Smith said to CSN in 2014

"When I think of a Baltimore Raven, what I think of is you go in there, we take your lunch box, we take your sandwich, we take your juice box, we take your applesauce and we take your spork and we break it. And we leave you with an empty lunch. That's the Baltimore Raven way, that's the bully way and that's football."

The Baltimore fans have shown Smith a lot of love, which he has returned in kind

If he decides to go out as a Panther instead of a Raven, it'll be tough – almost as tough as he is. 

MORE RAVENS: Suggs disagrees with losing for a better draft pick

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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

With OTAs underway, Peter King has released his 2019 NFL preseason power rankings and of the biggest surprises is the Baltimore Ravens landing at No. 12 on the list. Although stud Lamar Jackson surprised people last season, given the substandard state of their defense and the burden on Jackson to shoulder the load offensively, King may have the Ravens ranked a few spots too high. 

Let's start with the defense; it's got more holes than a slice of swiss cheese. Most notably they lost linebacker Terrell Suggs, the heart and soul of their defense for the past decade. Although past his prime, Suggs is still a productive player and they will undoubtedly miss his leadership. They released defensive back Eric Weddle, who was coming off two straight Pro-Bowl appearances. Their justification was that he's 34 and by releasing him, they could allocate the money to re-signing All-Pro linebacker C.J. Mosley. Solid reasoning, if Mosley didn't sign with the New York Jets in the offseason.

Credit must be given, however, to the four-year, $55 million contract given to former Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Coming off a broken leg, he is easily the biggest X-factor for this defense. If he produces like the Earl Thomas of old, it'll more than makeup for the loss of the Weddle. They'll also be getting back defensive tackle Willie Reed from injury, who's young and hungry.

Although last years' defense was one of, if not the top unit in the NFL, all anyone could manage to talk about was the dynamic offense led by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Coach John Harbaugh threw caution to the wind and handed the reins to Jackson in Week 10, and the Ravens proceeded to win six of their next seven games behind a run-dominated offense.

It's a toss-up if they'll be able to replicate that success this season. On the one hand, the unconventional attack took the league by storm last year and one could argue the league just needed time to adapt to this new-look offense. On the other hand, the Ravens did add some electric new pieces to the offense to replace the losses of wide receivers Michael Crabtree and John Brown. 

They added Mark Ingram who is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league when healthy. Their first-round pick, wide receiver Marquise Brown, is one of the fastest players Todd McShay has ever evaluated. Third-round pick wide receiver Miles Boykin was one of the 20 fastest players at the draft and fourth-round pick  Justice Hill registered the fastest 40 time for running backs at the combine. Adding young, electric talent will enhance Jackson's already stellar playmaking ability. 

At tight end, they're one of the deepest teams in the NFL, headed up by Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. Keep in mind, however, that this is the NFL: it all starts with the quarterback. Jackson completed passes at a 58.2% clip last season. If the Ravens are serious about building around him, he'll have to improve as a passer. 

Taking the defensive deficiencies and questions on offense into account, and 12 is too high for the preseason power rankings; 16 is more appropriate. In his article, King writes about the Ravens saying, "They could win 11. They could win six." If I had to choose one outcome I'd take the latter. 

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

Kick off your Tuesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including a recap of the first day of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Yesterday, (Monday) was the first day of the Ravens' OTAs. OTAs continue today (Tuesday) as the Ravens work on developing a new offense. Check out some of the highlights here. 

2. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. 

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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