How he beats you… The Ravens have a multi-dimensional offense, with the running of tailback Ray Rice and the possession receiving of wideout Anquan Boldin. But when the Ravens need a big play down the field, quarterback Joe Flacco generally looks in the direction of Smith, the former University of Maryland speedster now in his second NFL season.
Boldin and Smith each have more than 700 receiving yards this season. Boldin leads the team with 750 receiving yards, while Smith has 732. But Smith averages 17.4 yards per catch and has seven touchdown receptions, to Boldin’s 13.6 yards per catch and two touchdown grabs.
“Yeah, he’s moving—explosive,” Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. “He gets his hands on the ball and he can make some things happen.”
How to stop him… A few opposing defenses have made limiting Smith’s big plays their top priority this season. Those teams have either assigned their top cornerback to cover Smith wherever he goes, or have rolled coverages in his direction to surround him with multiple defenders.
That’s a tricky proposition, however, because giving additional attention to Smith could open room for Rice, Boldin and others.
At the least, the Redskins will have to give Smith a cushion and try to make certain that any catches he makes come with defenders between him and the end zone. The Redskins rank 31st in the league in pass defense and have been vulnerable to big plays this season. But their defense has done better against the pass in recent weeks. A key Sunday could be making the Ravens string together drives and earn all they get.
“Do whatever you’ve got to do,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to mix it up on him and not give him an easy look. And you’ve got to just play the ball, just like everybody else.”