Steve Smith responds to latest doubters about his return

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Asked last spring when the questions began about his age, Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith offered the perfect quip as he prepared for his 15th season in the NFL.
At 5-foot-9 and already the oldest receiver in the league, Smith has heard the doubts throughout his career, so why would he expect anything different after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in what was originally supposed to be his final season? Even before he officially announced last week that he would return in 2016, many have questioned how effective he will be coming off a serious injury and turning 37 in May.
“To be honest, you guys don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, so it doesn’t matter,” said Smith, drawing laughter from reporters on Monday. “The numbers I put up will be the numbers I put up, and I’ll happen to put up those numbers at the age of 37.
“Can I run like I used to at 22? No, but I’m comfortable being 37 years old, being on this team, and they’re comfortable with me, so we’re going to operate that way.”
Producing some of the best numbers in the league with 46 catches for 670 yards in just seven games despite the Ravens’ disappointing 2-6 start, Smith acknowledged he had already begun reconsidering his retirement plans as early as Week 2 when his wife, Angie, brought up the possibility the night before the Oakland game. He then made the decision with his family after he “sobered up” from the surgery to repair the Achilles tendon in his right heel.
Now, Smith will take his time coming back from the injury with visions of ending his brilliant career on a higher note than when we last saw him with a towel over his head and being helped off the M&T Bank Stadium field on Nov. 1.
“I won’t be ahead of schedule. If anything — to be safe — I’ll be behind schedule,” Smith said. “With an injury like this, you don’t want to be ahead of schedule. That takes away a lot of stuff. Despite reports that I’m doing hydrotherapy, I’m the driest hydrotherapy recipient ever because I’m not doing hydrotherapy.”
While the Ravens have much work to do this offseason to rebound from a disappointing 5-11 season, they hope Smith can be a key part in the turnaround.
And they hope to give him a final shot at a Super Bowl title.
“I do have a desire to play and also have an organization that wants me to play and is encouraging me to play [and] to continue,” Smith said. “So, that’s what I want to do. I’m under contract for one more year. I’m injured. I still have to rehab no matter what for the betterment of wanting to play with my kids, so I’m going to rehab.
“I think rehabbing and playing is a lot better than rehabbing just to rehab.”