Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. was supposed to call it a career after this season, but could a season-ending Achilles tear alter his plans?
Head coach John Harbaugh has a feeling that he hasn't seen the last of his top receiver, who had five catches for 82 yards before going down in a heap of pain at the end of a 17-yard reception late in the third quarter. At 36, Smith was by far Baltimore's most dangerous target with 46 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns this season.
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"He's pretty shook up about it," Harbaugh said after the game. "Shook up is not the right word -- he's hurting. I have a feeling Steve Smith will be back. I love him, respect him, admire him. I told him that. That's the kind of man he is, and he'll be back."
Smith rebuffed speculation that he might stick around to finish out his three-year contract in Baltimore last month, saying his retirement was still "on schedule," but also adding that playing in the NFL is a week-to-week game.
If that was Smith leaving the door open just a crack, Sunday's devastating injury could give him the chance to bust through it. Getting carried off the field is not the way a player like Smith wants to go out unless it was after a Super Bowl.
On the other hand, the grueling rehabilitation required for an Achilles tear might be enough for Smith to call his 15th season his last.