The emergence of rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith on Sunday has opened the Ravens to a little criticism about the organization’s evaluation of players.
Smith caught touchdown passes on the first three receptions of his career en route to five catches and 152 yards in the team’s 37-7 rout of the St. Louis Rams.
But some fans have openly questioned why Smith was making his first start three weeks into the regular season and only because Lee Evans was sidelined by a nagging left ankle injury.
Coach John Harbaugh said during his weekly briefing Monday that the determination on when to give players opportunities is based on their performances in practice.
“Sometimes I think people wonder, ‘Well, why is this guy playing and that guy’s not playing?’ and a lot of it is what you see in practice,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not like baseball or basketball or hockey where you play all these games and you really get a chance to develop and grow young players in the games. You really don’t get a chance to do that with only 16 opportunities. But we have lots of practice, and that’s where you see the guys make the little steps toward those kinds of things.”
Harbaugh ended the briefing by addressing a question about outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, the only player who has been deactivated for all three games this season.
“If you’re not dressing, it’s because you’re not good enough. That’s a fact,” Harbaugh said. “I hate to say it that way, but I think if someone got hurt and he dressed, then he’d have a chance to prove himself. But the fact is, there’s better players right now. So we dress the best players. You’ve got so many DBs, so many linebackers, so many defensive linemen. It’s a very competitive deal, and the more depth you have and the healthier you stay, the tougher it is for guys. That’s the harsh reality. But the other side of the coin is that Sergio is young and he’s talented and he works hard and he wants to be a good player. So his challenge is when his opportunity comes, he needs to be ready, and that’s what he works for. It could be this week. It might be five weeks. It might be 10 weeks.”