OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Newly-acquired Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith, the Jacksonville Jaguars all-time leading tackler, is thoroughly enjoying his new winning environment.
He was limited to two wins and played in only two games during an injury-plagued final season in Jacksonville.
Now, Smith is signed to a one-year contract worth up to $2.125 million with the defending Super Bowl champions and has been immediately installed as a starter at inside linebacker.
“Great, man,” Smith said when asked how he feels his change of scenery after nine seasons in Jacksonville. “Ain’t no guarantee that we can get back there. All I know is that the opportunity is there. I’m just hoping to be a part of that. I ain’t going to lie, this is my 10th year. I definitely want to win, get to the playoffs and get a shot at the title.
“It feels good to get out here and get back to football, just trying to soak up everything I can as quickly as I can. We’re out here moving fast, so I’m just happy to get out here and move around with the guys.”
Smith was praised by coach John Harbaugh for how he’s picking up the defense, calling signals in his first practice.
Smith underwent sports hernia surgery in October, but declared his health is fine. He’s focused on adjusting to a different team and defense.
“I feel healthy, just rusty,” Smith said. “These guys have been out here. I’ve only been doing conditioning and lifting weights. You can’t duplicate football, just being out here. That’s what I’m doing now.”
Since being drafted in the second round of the 2004 draft out of Georgia Tech, the 6-foot-2, 248-pounder has recorded 1,090 career tackles, 21 1/2 sacks, six interceptions and nine forced fumbles. He’s known as a gritty run stopper.
After a season in which he was limited to a career-low six tackles, Smith is looking forward to regaining his old form.
“I can be a very productive player,” Smith said. “I think every year you’ve got to go in and prove yourself. This year ain’t no different. It’s just new scenery. I can sit up here and tell you what I can be, but I got to get on the field and show it. That’s all I’m looking for, an opportunity.”