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Versatility Could Give Smith Leg Up

Marcus Smith wants to be more than just a special teamer.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

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With Donte’ Stallworth’s broken foot keeping him out for at least two months, Marcus Smith is hoping his versatility will give him an advantage in the race for Baltimore’s fourth receiver spot.

Smith is one of the Ravens’ top punt-team gunners, in addition to playing on the punt return, kickoff coverage and kickoff teams, but he excelled at wideout in a 24-10 win over the New York Giants.

“Nobody wants to be painted in a box,” said Smith, who netted four grabs for 29 yards and an 11-yard touchdown reception. “You want to do as much as you can as long as you can. Special teams is always going to be a part of me, but I feel like I can still develop as a receiver.

“There are certain things you know you’re going to get with me – physicality, always being around the ball, making tough plays over the middle, blocking… That’s where I see my growth as a wide receiver.”

The battle for Stallworth’s minutes is mainly between Smith, Demetrius Williams, who has been hampered by an ankle injury, and rookie David Reed.

While neither of his competitors contribute on special teams like Smith, he endured a year-long recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Smith knew his endurance would be challenged by adding more receiving responsibilities.

“Some of the coaches even said they were surprised that my legs lasted as long as they did,” Smith explained.  ”I made it through the entire [training] camp and didn’t have to take a day off. I didn’t have to ice my legs too much beyond what I normally do.  In that aspect, I’m definitely excited. I had a year off, a lot of time to get my body right.

“I just thought about how fun this game is.”

Smith has worked to take advantage of his opportunities with the offense, keeping his trademark gritty attitude when he lines up on scrimmage.  He even had to hold off a cornerback in close coverage when he hauled in his touchdown grab.

Smith now has five preseason catches for 35 yards heading into what should be his biggest showcase of the summer, as the backups will likely play all the snaps Thursday against the St. Louis Rams.

“I’ve been waiting,” Smith said.  ”The opportunity might not have always been there. After three years of working, I feel like now’s the time to show my abilities as a wide receiver and not just as a special teams guy.”

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