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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Ravens LB Roquan Smith is Already Having an Impact

The Baltimore Ravens pulled off a blockbuster trade when they acquired inside linebacker Roquan Smith from the Chicago Bears in exchange for a second- and a fifth-round pick in 2023. Dating back to Ray Lewis, and later C. J. Mosley, Baltimore’s defense is always predicated on the inside linebacker being one of their best players which makes the Smith trade a perfect match.

Smith had quite an impact in his Ravens debut on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints. His impact wasn’t felt in the stat sheet. Smith only have five tackles, but his presence in the field gave the defense a surge.

“I think good players and great players make everybody around them better,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of Smith. “He’s a really good player, everybody knows it. What a great job he did to come in and learn the defense so quickly. He had no issues out there at all, as far as knowing what to do. Then all the sudden, he’s flying around, and he makes a couple plays and other guys kind of feed off of that just a little bit, and your defense is that much better. When you have one guy playing well, it has an exponential effect kind of to everyone else.”

Harbaugh liked the way Smith made tackles against the run, especially when the Saints went to the RPO (run/pass/option) game. The fact that Smith came in and got acclimated to the defense so quickly speaks to his football acumen. Smith was focused on fitting in rather than being shocked by the unexpected trade.

“Everything’s happened really, really quickly,” Smith said. “I’m just trying to focus on honing in on this playbook right now and getting to that. But my main focus right now is learning the playbook and getting a great relationship with the guys and then going from there.”

Having Smith in the lineup allowed Ravens defensive coordinator Mike McDonald to use fellow inside linebacker Patrick Queen in a pass rushing role. It also helped outside linebacker Justin Houston have a monster game.

Houston was virtually unstoppable, posting 2.5 sacks, an interception, and three QB hits. He’s definitely thankful that the Ravens were able to bring Smith to Baltimore.

“The plays that he made – I know there was a third and one and he just came out of nowhere,” Houston said.” He’s going to help this defense a lot to be where we want to be. We needed a guy like that, and I am so happy we were able to get him. I think that was crazy for them [Chicago] to let him go. I think he is one of the best linebackers in the game, and to add him to this defense, that’s scary.”

Like most other veteran additions, Smith has already felt the love from the organization and quickly acclimated himself into the locker room even though it has barely been a week since he arrived.

“It’s amazing, just being out there with my new teammates. Those guys have been very welcoming to me throughout the week, the coaches taking time to teach me things, man, it was amazing. I’m just excited for what we have in store.”

At 6-3, the Ravens find themselves on top of the AFC North and riding a three-game win streak heading into the bye week. The defense will only get better with Smith, a two-time second-team All Pro (2020, 2021) in the lineup.  

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