OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has worked his way back from so many injuries that he’s become the resident expert on the subject in the Baltimore locker room.
It’s a title Smith could do without.
Only twice in his nine-year NFL career has Smith played all 16 games. He’s had to rebound from a torn Achilles tendon, a sports hernia, at least three concussions and a strained lower back.
“Those injuries, they weigh on you a little bit,” Smith said Wednesday. “But you just keep fighting.”
The Lisfranc foot surgery that Smith endured in November 2014 enabled him to provide insight and advice to rookie receiver Marquise Brown, who arrived in Baltimore while recovering from the same operation.
“Jimmy went through what I had so he was always encouraging me and telling me that it was going to get better,” Brown recalled. “He let me know what I was going to feel next.”
Smith sugarcoated it. In truth, it’s an injury that keeps on hurting long after the recovery process has been completed.
“I know what he’s going through as far as every time he wakes up and it’s cold outside that thing hurts,” Smith said. “I’ve been in his ear, letting him know he’ll get over it eventually.”
Brown played in the opener against Miami, a game in which Smith sprained his right knee. As Smith was nearing his return, Brown sustained a high ankle sprain — an injury Smith endured in 2011 and 2016.
Again, Smith was in position to share his knowledge on the subject.
“Just having someone like that you can talk to is very helpful,” Brown said.
The 31-year-old Smith entered this season hopeful to put his injury-riddled past behind him, but his optimism was buried in the first half of the first game. While he had every right to groan ‘here we go again,’ Smith ended up thankful that he would be back in 2019.
“I was kind of nervous it was an ACL or something really serious,” he recalled. “I knew how much it would impact my career, just being an older guy and all that and my history. But finding out it was a strain and I could come back, it definitely boosted my spirits.”
Smith missed six games before coming back last week to help the Ravens beat the previously unbeaten New England Patriots. He chipped in with three tackles and knocked away a pass.
“It felt great for a number of reasons,” Smith said. “I hate being in the training room, obviously. But it just felt good to go out there and play and help win a game against a good team.”
Just another rehab with a happy ending. Seems like Smith has been doing it forever.
“Jimmy has done a great job of fighting through those things,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s had some misfortune with some of that stuff and he’s always done nothing but battle back. It’s commendable.”
Smith’s most notable return came in 2012, after he interrupted his season to have sports hernia surgery.
“I tore one side and just kept playing through it, but when the other side went it was a little too painful to twist and run and all that,” Smith said. “We had a real shot at going to the Super Bowl that year. I really didn’t want to get that surgery but I needed it to perform well.”
He returned in mid-December after missing five weeks. Not long after that, Smith had a tackle and knocked away two passes to help the Ravens beat the 49ers for the championship.
“Thank God we ended up going to the playoffs and making it that far because I think the really only game I impacted when I got back from that was the Super Bowl,” he said.
The Ravens might have a shot at winning it all this season, and Smith is in position to play a role.
At least for now.
Notes: The Ravens signed receiver and kicker returner De’Anthony Thomas to the 53-man roster. Thomas returned 13 punts and seven kickoffs for the Kansas City Chiefs this season. “We anticipate him having a lot of possibilities for roles,” Harbaugh said. Cornerback Maurice Canady was released.