Steve Smith is latest addition to Ravens' expansive injury list
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens lamented the loss of standout receiver Steve Smith for 24 hours.
On Monday, they moved forward without him.
Smith tore his right Achilles tendon Sunday in the third quarter of a 29-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The injury not only ended his season, but might also have marked the end of his career.
The 36-year-old Smith said in August that he will retire at this season, his 15th in the NFL. If he changes his mind, he's got an open invitation to return to Baltimore.
"Oh, yeah. Absolutely," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's a great player. It's really up to him."
Smith leads the Ravens (2-6) with 46 catches, 670 yards receiving and three touchdown receptions.
He is scheduled to have surgery next week in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"Great guy, great teammate," linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. "It's tough, but in the NFL it happens. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We just have to keep going."
The Ravens are on a bye this week, but will practice Tuesday and Wednesday. During that time, the team will attempt to reconfigure the passing game in the wake of Smith's absence.
Receivers Kamar Aiken, Chris Givens and Marlon Brown are certain to get more playing time, and tight ends Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle will likely be targeted more.
"Even without losing Steve, we felt like the tight ends were going to take on a bigger and bigger role," Harbaugh said. "I think that's going to happen either way."
Twelve on IR: Plugging in the next man up has become a common practice for the Ravens this season. The process began in the opener, when linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon, and continued with alarming regularity over the first half.
Smith will be the 12th player on Baltimore's injured reserve, a list that includes Suggs, safety Matt Elam, cornerback Will Davis, receiver Michael Campanaro and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. In addition, tight end Dennis Pitta is on the physically unable to perform list.
"You move on, That's what you have to do," Harbaugh said. "It never changes. We're never going to use excuses, we're never going to say that we don't have enough firepower or enough ammunition. We're never going to say that because we don't believe it. We always believe that we've got players in the pipeline that can get the job done."
Suggs provided more than just sacks and Smith was more than just a sure-handed receiver. Each was a vocal leader in the locker room.
"Different guys lead all the time," Harbaugh said. "Probably some guys will fill the void a little bit; we'll hear from them or see more from them."
Flacco will be leaned on heavily: That role could be filled by quarterback Joe Flacco, who rallied the Ravens to victory Sunday after Smith was helped off the field. Flacco connected with nine different receivers during the afternoon and engineered 59-yard drive that produced the game-winning field goal on the final play.
"He made throws when he had to in the clutch at the end. He scrambled and made plays when people weren't open," Harbaugh said. "To me, Joe carried the thing. He made it happen. That's what you hope Joe will do for you, and he did it."
Even more impressive, Flacco did it behind a makeshift line. Tackle Eugene Monroe was sidelined with a shoulder injury and center Jeremy Zuttah left with an injury to his left arm.
Harbaugh is uncertain of the extent of Zuttah's injury. Monroe is expected to be back in action when the Ravens resume play on Nov. 15 at home against Jacksonville.