Ravens WR Smith beats defensive backs, adversity
For Smith to be at his best this season, it was important that he moved on after his brother's death.
"That's life. That's so long ago," Smith said with shrug Saturday as he packed his bags for a trip to New Orleans. "That happens to everyone. Someone has someone pass, and you've just got to move on. I'm just focused on playing football."
When Smith opted to leave Maryland before his senior year, his coach at the time, Ralph Friedgen, wasn't sure if it was the right decision. Friedgen no longer has any doubt that the 6-foot, 200-pound speedster has what it takes to be great.
"I see his hands improving and I see someone very confident in what he does," said Friedgen, who was fired after the 2010 season. "When you can beat a guy like Champ Bailey twice, that can only help your confidence. Around the league, everyone knows that to beat the Ravens, you have to stop Torrey."
Before Smith arrived, Harbaugh was desperate for a receiver that could get behind opposing safeties. Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, T.J. Houshmandzahdeh, and Donte Stallworth did so on occasion, but Smith has seemingly made it a habit.
Although his 49 catches were one fewer than last season, Smith increased his yardage from 841 to 855 and had 16 catches of 20 yards or more.
"It's definitely a process," Smith said. "I don't think I am surprised, because with hard work you expect to do well, and you expect to continue to get better. I never get complacent. I have a long way to go, and I'm trying to work each and every day to get there. Later, down the line, there will be some trouble."
Friedgen has no doubt.
"Once we got him at Maryland, he hadn't played much at wide receiver," the former coach said. "But I thought he had the physical tools to be very good football player, and I was right. There's a learning curve in the NFL, because defensive backs can stay with you like a shadow. But Torrey has overcome that, and I don't think he's finished growing yet."